Do you ever feel that you’re rushed off your feet so much that you can’t spend quality time with friends and family, never mind take the dog out on that long-promised walk in the countryside or the beach? Modern-day lifestyles are demanding. We want it all: great jobs, wonderful relationships, fun freetime… but it’s so hard to fit it all in. Consequently, we often neglect things, especially those around us. So how can you keep your loved ones happy – especially the four-legged one – even when you’re crazy busy?
Clearly you can’t be in 2 places at once, so you can’t hope to take the dog for an hour-long walk if you need to be sitting at your computer working all day. Before you know it, you’ve missed countless walks and daily dog cuddles.
Thankfully though, it’s not always necessary to sacrifice one thing to maintain another. Now, I’m not saying that this is ideal, because obviously when something matters to you, you invest in it.
However, sometimes we do find ourselves in periods of overwork and overwhelm. It’s in those periods that you can get by with some imaginative, micro moments to let your dog know how much she means to you.
6 Quick Fixes to Improve Your Connection with 4-Legged Loved Ones
1. Start the day together
Just 2 minutes in the morning playing with your dog will help make your day get off to a fabulous start. I’m not talking about a quick ‘pat on the head’ and then run-out-the-door type of greeting. I mean really focus on her. It’s just 2 minutes, but make them 2 quality-filled minutes.
2. Include your loved ones in your daily activities
I’m lucky in that I work from home. I try to make sure my dogs can be with me as much as possible. My boy is very demanding though, so I frequently need to tell him to leave me in peace so I can work. He’s unable to sit next to me quietly, he insists on shoving his nose under my arm for attention.
When he’s super persistent, I stretch out on my bed with my computer, and he piles in alongside me. Then he happily falls asleep and I can continue working. Sometimes it’s just a question of finding a way to be together quietly, without actively needing to do something.
3. Take short, 3-minute breaks
When I get short breaks in a busy day, very often I’ll use them to throw a squeaky toy for my dogs. Unlike the tin man from the Wizard of Oz, my mutts are unlikely to seize up, given the amount of regular, short bursts of activity they have throughout the day.
I vary the activities – it could be a squeaky toy, or a kong with treats inside, or a licky mat. Very often I’ll play a quick game of hide and seek with them, quickly popping dog treats or toys around the living room for them to find. See some quick, fun games you can play here.
4. Don’t forget the value of touch
Most of us appreciate a little shoulder rub, a hug, a quick hand massage, or having our hair stroked. It takes no time at all to do this, yet it can really change someone’s level of relaxation and connection. And of course, that’s true for our dogs too!
Massage is very good for dogs, especially older ones. You can give your dog a quick paw massage in 3-4 minutes. See more on how to do dog massage in this article.
5. Do quick, 2-minute learning
For just a couple of minutes you can do some rapid training – reinforcing basic commands, and rewarding them with affection and treats.
6. Remember & celebrate important dates
There’s really no excuse for forgetting important dates nowadays: every smartphone has a calendar, so it’s really not difficult to send yourself reminders about your pup’s vaccination / worming dates / training classes, or her birthday.
Do you treat your dog to a present and some goodies on her birthday? I do! Sometimes it’s something major, like a beautiful dog coat I’ve had my eye on ( yes I know, that’s more for me than for her!). Or it might be some homemade pup cakes – why try some of my dog treat recipes on your dog’s birthday.
Whilst most of us these days complain that there just isn’t enough time to do everything, with a little bit of mindful creativity we can improve our connection and relationship with our dogs in just 2-3 minutes, a few times a day.