How To Spend Quality Time With Your Dog

By WagWell Team
January 11, 2024

Getting lost in your online world of perfectly curated content is easier than ever. Did you find yourself doom-scrolling for the tenth time today while your dog stares at you, hoping you look at them? Those beautiful (but guilt-tripping) puppy eyes are hard to ignore. If you’re having trouble putting aside your devices to provide your loving companion with the interaction and attention they crave, you’re not alone. We’re all guilty of this, but here are a few ways to reconnect with your furry friend and deepen your bond. 

WFH Edition

COVID made many employers realize that letting employees work from home can lead to astounding productivity. With commuting and IRL office work gone, this freed up plenty of time to buy or adopt a new dog. However, this created a new breed of separation anxiety-ridden pets as many companies returned to the office. 


Working from home can help lift your pup’s mood if your employer allows it. You don’t have to interact with your pet; simply smelling you and being around your workstation could be enough for them. Place their bed at your feet or somewhere in your office (if you don’t have a yapper on your hands) to provide the presence they need. 


If you can’t WFH, commuting home at lunch will provide your dog some dopamine to get them through the day. Use this time to pet them, go for a walk, or simply interact with them. 

Take Your Time, Be Present

Parallel play may be a human love language, but your dog wants your attention and focus. A long day of hard work can zap your energy, but you should remember that your dog has been alone all day; your coming home is their favorite part of the day! You have limited time with your pet and should prioritize spending time with them over other distractions. Give your full attention to any activity you partake in with your dog; try to limit your phone use when playing fetch or taking them for walks. 


Your dog is likely aware of the fact that you’re responsible for their survival and wants to give thanks. You might find your dog staring at you from across a room or waiting for you to get off the toilet; this is their way of showing love to you. Acknowledge your pet’s efforts at connecting by petting them when they seem to be waiting for you. 


Learning their body language should be a requirement for all pet owners. Our pets can’t talk and attempt to communicate through their body language instead. If you learn the signs they typically show when they want attention or are feeling anxious, you’ll find that they will be very grateful and continue to show those signs. 

Involve Them in Your Everyday Activities

One of my favorite ways of connecting with my dog is showing him every piece of mail I get and letting him sniff both the package and the object I ordered. He always gets so excited when he gets a sniff–especially when the package is for him. 


Other ways you can involve your dog in your activities are:


    • Bring them along on your shopping trips: If you’re planning a trip to a pet-friendly store, consider popping them in the car and letting them tag along. These excursions allow your dog the chance to sniff interesting smells and experience a new environment. 
    • Plain ol’ car rides: Your dog will appreciate a ride, even if you’re not heading to a store they're allowed in. Only bring them along in cooler months when it’s safe to leave them in the car, and always crack the windows to provide fresh air. If you can, leaving the car running can provide some comfort. 
    • Have a conversation with them: Another thing I love to do with my dog is talk to him about what I’m doing or how my day was. He always attentively listens and I can tell it means a lot to him. I like to build anticipation around everyday activities for him so that he has a “special day,” regardless of what we’re doing. 
    • Let them join you outside: Fall is a season of many outdoor chores. It could be picking up sticks or raking leaves, but bringing your dog out with you and letting them play in leaf piles or having them fetch sticks can provide mental enrichment.
A small, black puppy is playing fetch with their owner and is chasing after a potato. The owner can be seen standing in the background with a smile on her face as she watches.

Socialization

Dogs are social creatures; the connection they crave could be for another dog or their favorite human. Not every dog has the same tolerance for dogs as some might be reactive towards others or simply prefer the company of their human. Learn what your dog likes and tailor their experiences towards that. 


For the dog-dogs, dog parks are a great option for enrichment. You should never use the dog park as a way for them to burn off energy, as that can create dangerous situations in the park. Here’s our blog on do’s and don’ts in the dog park. Another option is to meet other people with dogs they enjoy being around and arrange playdates with them (dogs are the new children–amiright?).

Exercise Their Minds

Dogs LOVE structure. A routine provides them with a coping mechanism so they’re not waiting without knowing when the next activity happens. Routines involve setting specific times for walks, feeding, play, and more. Try your best to not break the routine, but don’t feel bad if you miss a day or two. 


Games not only develop your bond with your dog, but they also can work off some energy. Dogs with a prey drive are likely to love playing fetch. Whether it's a stick or a tennis ball, the object you’re throwing looks remarkably like fast prey, and your dog is ready for the chase. Dog breeds like beagles, hounds, and other scent dogs enjoy working their nose; try putting on a scavenger hunt to work those scent receptors. 


Believe it or not, teaching an old dog new tricks is possible (and they’ll love it)!  Training your dog is a wonderful source of mental enrichment, as it makes them think about what you’re asking of them and act accordingly. Leash training, recall, and obedience training are all requirements for a well-rounded dog. 




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