We see our pets every day, but it’s easy to fall into the same routines: feedings, brisk walks, a short play session before you crash on the couch. If this sounds like you, you may be looking for ways to spend more quality time with your pet. For inspiration, we’ve put together a list of eight things you can do to increase the time you spend with your pet.
As families begin to travel more with their pets, cities are becoming increasingly pet-friendly. In the past, a pet-friendly vacation may have been limited to something like a camping trip, but today your pet can join you for nearly anything you have planned. When planning your vacation, start by researching pet-friendly destinations in the general area you want to visit. If you’re not sure where to start, take a look at these five cities known for being exceptionally pet-friendly. Once you’ve decided on a destination you can look into pet-friendly accommodations, activities, and restaurants to enjoy while you’re there.
You may not be able to bring your pet to the gym, but there are several workouts you can do at home and outside such as running, stand-up paddleboarding, and yoga. For those with active dogs, running is an obvious choice. You can build up your endurance together and your pup is the perfect motivator – they won’t wimp out if the weather is a bit inclement. If you have a water-loving dog, try stand-up paddleboarding – the length of the board almost makes it feel like they were made for a dog to join you on them! Before you hit the water, just make sure your pup is outfitted with a well-fitting life jacket in case they take an unexpected dip mid-paddle. Finally, if you’ve ever attempted an at-home yoga workout you know that the second you bring out the mat your cat comes over to explore. Instead of shooing them away, work through a flow that allows you to move around them.
Going out for a meal or coffee is a classic way to spend time with friends, so why not do the same with your four-legged friends! Make a reservation at your local pet-friendly cafes and restaurants – ideally one with a special pet menu so your pet can choose something for themselves. Some establishments even hold special events for owners and their pets, which is a great way to get to know other pet owners in your area. If you don’t know of any pet-friendly establishments, Bring Fido is a great resource.
Your pet needs to stay active, not only for the benefit of their physical health but for their mental health as well. There are countless pet-specific activities you can choose from depending on your pet’s size and energy level. Water-loving dogs are well suited for dock diving – a sport where they see how far they can jump from an elevated platform into the water. Ball-obsessed pups will enjoy fly-ball – essentially a relay race for dogs who have to go through obstacles as they race to reach a tennis ball that has been thrown. If frisbees are your dog’s toy of choice, check out Disc Dog – a competition where points are calculated based on the number of discs your dog can catch in a set time.
Giving back to your community together is another way to spend more time with your pet. A popular option is to work towards the goal of being a registered therapy animal and spend time volunteering at local hospitals and nursing homes. This line of volunteer work is perfect for well-trained dogs who love people and easily adjust to new environments. To become a certified therapy dog, you and your pup will need to first go through the Good Citizen Program and then find an organization offering therapy programs, such as Pet Partners. Once certified, you can connect with local organizations looking for therapy dogs.
If we had to guess, there’s probably something you’ve always wanted to do with your pet but just haven’t found the time to do it. Setting a goal that you can work towards together means you can spend time together doing something fun. Perhaps you’ve always wanted to learn a sport, gain a certification, or simply cross off some items from your bucket list. For example, if you want to spend more time outdoors try setting a goal of visiting all of the national parks within driving distance. You can even purchase an annual state park pass for a little extra motivation!
Spending time outdoors with your dog requires very little planning, but for cats, it takes a bit more preparation. If you’re not comfortable letting your cat loose outside, try harness training. Training your cat to wear a harness and leash is easiest with kittens, but can be done with cats of any age if you take it slowly. Start by letting them get comfortable around the hardness by letting them investigate and play with it on their own. Next, you can try putting it on and rewarding them with their favorite Freshpet recipes to start building a positive association. Once your cat has had the chance to practice walking on the leash indoors, you’re ready to go outside! If your cat can’t seem to adjust to their harness, don't worry – this doesn’t mean you can’t spend time outdoors together. Try using a cat stroller or even a mesh cat tent where they can move around in a safe and secure area.
There are many pet-friendly events taking place in communities across the country, such as San Diego’s 'Dog Dayz' or Denver’s 'Bark in the Park'. These events allow you to get out of the house and get to know other owners, as well as have a special day with your pet. If there are no events taking place in your community, this could also be an opportunity to organize one yourself or with a local rescue or organization.
Activities, vacations, workouts – these are just a few of the ways that you can be more purposeful in the time you spend with your pet. If you have other ways of connecting with the four-legged members of your family, we’d love to hear about it!