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How to maximize quality time with your pet

Virginia Chavez is a Phoenix-based freelance writer covering pets and lifestyle in the Southwest. In addition to regular contributions both online and in-print, Virginia locally owns and operates two pet care and supply businesses. For t...

Making time for our four-legged friends

Keeping your pets happy not only ensures a strong bond between you and your loyal fur-friend but it can also help promote longevity for many years of snuggles and tail-wags. Hectic schedules and demanding workloads leave us with little time or energy to spare for our pets. When you only have a few minutes to spend with your pet, make them count by following these small tips that make a big difference.

Woman exercising with dog

Keep the focus on them

We're all guilty of multi-tasking our "pet-time" with other things on our to-do list. A reminder to busy pet parents: Petting your four-legged friend while talking on the phone and making dinner does not count as quality time. Take at least 10 minutes each day to focus solely on your pet. Turn off the television, radio, cell phone and any pull yourself away from any other distractions. Whether they want belly rubs or a quick game of fetch, this is your pets' time to call the shots.

Skip the couch

Nothing sounds better at the end of a long day than sinking into a big comfy couch and watching TV. Resist the urge to put on your sweats and grab a leash instead. All it takes a few minutes of exercise to satisfy your pup. Try to make extra time at least once a week for a longer walk or dog park trip, but for days when you are short on time, even a quick walk around the block will help keep your pet happy. Look at it as a healthy way to unwind from a long day and get re-energized from a brisk stroll.

Talk it out

There's a reason pets are a woman's best friend. They're naturally great listeners, always on your side and never judge. Take a few minutes a day to talk to your pet -- they may not know what you're saying, but they sure love to hear your voice. This may take a few conversations to get used to, but your furry companion will definitely enjoy the one-on-one chat sessions and it's a great opportunity for you to vent.

Get the whole family involved

If you don't live alone, time spent with your pet should be even greater. Delegating time for your pet to each member of the household not only ensures your pet's happiness but also promotes bonding time for the entire family. This is also a great way to teach kids about responsibility and the work that goes into owning a pet. Instead of video games, ask your kids to take the dog for a walk or spend a few minutes playing with your cat and her favorite toys. Assign weekly pet duties to each child, like scooping the kitty litter or cleaning up pet waste in the backyard.

Feed them right

Do your research to provide your pet with the healthiest food possible. You may have to spend a few extra dollars each month on pet food, but you will save hundreds on vet bills by keeping your pet in tip-top shape. Just as we need healthy foods for a long and healthy lifestyle, so do your pets. Nothing will maximize the time you have with your four-legged companion like ensuring proper diet and exercise.

More tips for pet owners

Pet safety in your car
How to find a trustworthy pet-sitter or doggy day care
Pet separation anxiety: 4 Tips to help cope

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