spend-time-with-dog-2 {Photography by Stephanie Heim} Life is BUSY at the moment! In addition to preparing the upcoming edition of Pawsh (March 16th everybody! Sneak peek coming soon!), I’ve been busy working, editing photos from three family sessions and a wedding, updating my photo blog more consistently, starting a 90-day fitness challenge, soaking up an online course and getting back into creative writing. Phew!

Life is — to say the least — exhilarating and (at times) a little exhausting right now, but no matter how many Post-its adorn my computer monitor or how many alerts I program into my phone, Rory remains my utmost priority. Her happiness, health and entertainment is always my foremost concern and achieving that tricky work-life balance can be a challenge.

So I thought I would once again share five of my own personal secrets for making extra time for Rory no matter how busy things get (I originally wrote about them here.)

1) Multitasking games
Taking your pup for a walk in the morning and a run in the evening is not enough attention. They need lots of mental stimulation for true happiness, so use your imagination and think of some creative ways to work more play into your day.

For example, putting away the dishes? Dance around the kitchen at the same time and encourage pup to bounce around too. Working from home? Play a friendly round of indoor fetch. Cooking? Make your pup do tricks for pieces of fresh apple or carrot. There is always room to incorporate play into tasks that have to be completed, which will benefit your pup and reduce stress for you.

2) Host a canine social
We all have busy social lives on top of our professional obligations, but don’t leave Fido at home! Instead host a casual event where well-behaved dogs are welcome. Book clubs, wine and cheese nights, yoga at home and movie nights can all be made Fido-friendly so you can spend quality time with your friends, human and furry alike.
spend-time-with-dog-5503) Sit on the floor
Dogs are natural pack animals and as such they relish any opportunity to feel close to you. After a long hard day at work instead of curling up on the couch in front of the tv, spend a little time sitting on the floor instead. Your dog will love to curl up close to you and receive a few extra snuggles. Sitting on the floor will be seen as a different activity for your pup (who may be used to sitting on the couch with you instead), thus creating a fun bonding experience. Worried the floor is too hard to lounge about on? Invest in some floor pillows!

4) Read aloud
Even though dogs cannot understand the complexities of the English language, some studies suggest that being spoken to reaffirms a dog’s attention to their person. Similar to how you may leave the radio or television on in the background when you’re not at home as company for your dog, reading aloud creates an easy way to spend time together. “But I don’t read anything,” you may be worrying. Nonsense. Books, newspapers, blogs, even tweets can all be read aloud over your morning coffee or late night snack, creating yet another pocket of time that can be spent bonding with your dog.

5) Less screen time
Many of us spend the final few hours of the day parked in front of a screen, be it a television or computer. Take the final thirty minutes before bedtime without a screen and instead focus on your dog. It is amazing what can be accomplished in a mere half an hour; an extra walk, a grooming session, a game of tug-of-war, whatever you wish to make of it! It will be a happy time spent together before saying goodnight.

Do you have any advice for spending more time with your dog while still ticking everything off of your to-do list? I would love to hear your thoughts!

(This article was originally published in Pawsh No. 6 “Furry Fancy.”)