A busy lifestyle may mean you aren’t able to give your canine companion as much attention as you wish you could. Here are 10 ways to ensure he gets the quality time he needs and deserves.
Ask just about anyone how much time they spend with their dog every day, and chances are, the answer will be: “Not as much as I’d like.” They might add how they hate leaving him home alone so much, or that they can’t take him for long walks because they have so much else to get done. Whether it’s working long hours, attending a child’s soccer game, helping an elderly parent, cleaning the house or shopping for groceries, our days are all too often filled with tasks and activities that don’t leave us enough quality time for our four-legged friends.
But there are solutions besides feeling guilty and wishing there were more hours in the day. A little reorganization, creative thinking and multi-tasking can help ensure your dog gets the attention he needs and deserves. Check out some of these suggestions.
If you work outside the home, for example, can you take him with you, even if it’s just a couple of days a week? Depending on your job, this might not be possible, but a growing number of offices are allowing people to bring their dogs to work. Talk to your employer about the benefits of canines in the workplace – e.g. higher morale, increased productivity and less stress.
2. Work from home!
Alternatively, would your employer be open to letting you work from home sometimes, even for just part of the day, so your dog could have more company? Again, whether or not this is possible depends on the type of job you have, but telecommuting is a popular option with many companies nowadays.
3. Come home for lunch
If you live close enough to your job, consider coming home for lunch rather than working through it or going out to eat. By making your lunch the night before and leaving it in the fridge, you’ll have a little extra time before you eat to visit with your dog, take him out and give him a treat. The visit will also be good for you – it provides you with a short break from your desk and helps relax and refresh you for the afternoon.
4. Create a “quality time” schedule
If you have a partner and/or kids, create a rota so that each person spends some quality time with the dog each day, either taking him for a walk, training him, playing with him, brushing him, or just hanging out with him. It may require some discussion and organization; for example, if you have a family of four, and each of you spends half an hour with the dog every day, whether it’s first thing in the morning, at noon hour, after school, or in the evening, that’s two extra hours of quality time every day on top of what you are hopefully already giving him.
Many people join a gym to get fit, but why not use that time to exercise with your dog instead? A walk or hike in the fresh air with your canine is more fun than working out in a gym, and it costs nothing! During inclement weather, exercise indoors. Set up a mini-agility course in a hallway or recroom. Or invest in a treadmill; you can train your dog to walk on it (with supervision) as well as use it yourself. Over the long term, the cost of even a high quality treadmill will be less than an ongoing gym membership.
6. Take him to sporting events!
If you have kids involved in outdoor sporting events, take your dog along to their games — or take him to an actual sporting event! Most dogs will love the attention and activity. Just be sure to keep him leashed and supervised, and take water and a few favorite treats along.
7. Spend some quiet time together
Pencil in a daily block of quiet time to just be with your dog. A good time might be later in the evening, shortly before bed. Instead of collapsing in front of the TV or turning on the computer, just sit with your dog and give him your undivided attention. Talk to him, snuggle with him, groom him, or just quietly relax in his presence. Try not to think about anything else. This time is for you and your dog, and for no one or nothing else. Pick a comfortable and secluded spot in the house where you won’t be disturbed. Even just ten or fifteen minutes of this quiet bonding can make a big difference to both of you – you’ll feel more relaxed and centered, and your dog will bask in your love and attention.
8. Let him sleep with you
Where does your dog sleep at night? Is he shut out of your bedroom, or relegated to another part of the house? Could you allow him to sleep in your room? Some people love having their dogs on the bed with them, but if you’re not one of them, you might move his bedding into your room so he can at least be near you and have your company during the night. Even sleeping together is quality time together.
9. Practice some training tricks!
Practice obedience or training commands with your dog while you’re making dinner. Chances are, if there’s food involved, your dog will be in the kitchen with you anyhow, so what better opportunity to give him some extra attention and mental stimulation? And the rewards will be right at hand in the form of raw vegetables, meat or cheese.
10. Involve him in your daily chores
The same principle can apply with house or yard work. Practice training or obedience, or toss a ball or toy for your dog to fetch back to you while you’re weeding the garden or sorting the laundry.
You may already be using some of these suggestions, but are still perhaps not spending as much time with your dog as you feel you should be. An awareness of how much or little attention you give your dog each day is the first step to seeing where and how you can make improvements. The result will be a happier, well-adjusted dog, and a happier, more relaxed you.