Studies show that people enjoy a boost in happiness and decrease in stress as a result of spending time with pets—although you probably didn’t need a study to tell you that! But did you know your furry friend reaps the benefits too (and gets bummed out when you’re absent)? Here’s why it’s so important to log quality, one-on-one time with your pet, plus our favorite ways to make that happen.

There’s a lot of love and trust between pets and their owners, and one-on-one time is the best way to strengthen that trusting bond. Consider your pet’s perspective: Dogs are pack animals, so to them, you’re the leader of their pack. Cats, who tend to shy away from new things, recognize you as a constant presence and caretaker. You’ve already earned your pet’s trust as the person who provides their food and water everyday — what else can you do?

Activities are a great way to log quality time. If you have a dog, he’ll look forward to regular walks; if you have multiple dogs, try to carve out the time to take them for separate walks at least once a week so they have you all to themselves. Games like fetch, tug-of-war, and hide-and-seek are great sources of entertainment too. For cats, consider engaging them with simple games like laser pointers or toy mice. Whatever you decide to do, show your pet that they’re in best hands by choosing the right activity for them.

 

Here are a few other ideas:

  • Run errands. Many dogs love the car; just don’t leave them alone in the heat and don’t open the window far enough that they could jump (or fall) out.
  • Groom them, using gentle, slow strokes and brushes that feel good on their skin. Psst: Need help with grooming? We’d love to do it for you!
  • Touch is a powerful sense — mindfully stroke pets’ heads and scratch behind their ears and under their chins. Here are some more tips for massaging your cat.
  • Let them tag along to picnics, pet-friendly events, outdoor tables at coffee shops, and the like. Help them see the world!
  • Just be there. Be present; give them your undivided attention, even just for a few minutes, without any multitasking.
  • When you can’t be there, do all you can to guarantee consistency. That’s where we come in: We’ll maintain all the routines to which your pet is accustomed, all in his or her own home.

When you can’t be there, do all you can to guarantee consistency. That’s where we come in: We’ll maintain all the routines to which your pet is accustomed, all in his or her own home.