For a busy BUSY human being I work extra hard not to short change my spaniels. So when the good folk at More Than asked me to take part in their Playmore Pledge – promising to play with my puppies for an extra 15 minutes a day – my first reaction was of course to snigger followed quickly by a ‘pfft, easy’. Not so much.
The whole thing reminded me of a conversation with a friend not that long ago, I might have told you about it (I can be a bit repetitive), about how dogs really have just three things in their lives: eating, sleeping and their relationships with the humans they own and as responsible pet owners it’s really your/my/our responsibility to make each of those things as great as they can be. Whether that’s putting a little time and effort into researching what you’re feeding them, buying (or making) the best bed you can afford to or rolling about on the floor with then every chance you get. In light of that, whilst on the surface of it I give my spaniels a lot of my time, in reality the busyness of my life means that I’m probably not always 100% present in the playing moment – I might chuck a ball in the garden and dash back in to stir the dinner or play one handed tug so I can check my emails on the side. It’s probably not all that satisfying for them.
So, my personal playmore pledge was to spend at least 15 minutes each day giving every last drop of my attention to those fur faces. For a whole week, armed with a bundle of new toys courtesy of MoreThan, we played our pants off.
Some things I noticed:
Betty Likes Me More
She’s the husband’s dog through and through, wherever he is she is. She’ll only give me the time of day when he’s nowhere to be seen. It cuts deep. By the end of our week of committed playtime my bond with Betts was stronger, she voluntarily came and stuck her tongue in my mouth whilst I was yawning, the ultimate seal of approval. She was snugglier, more loving and I swear she didn’t give me quite as horrific stink eye when I dared smooch the husband that one time.
MoreThan also sent us a Whistl, a bit like a canine fitbit. You attach it to the dogs collar, download and app and monitor their activity. In the office for the morning, I expected them to be climbing the walls, not so. When I wasn’t at home with them, they snoozed, clearly recouping for our next playdate. There were a couple of spikes in activity which I’m almost certain were them hollering at a magpie who has the nerve to land in our garden each day.
15 minutes a day quickly turned into 20, 30, 40, 50. Turns out spaniel playtime is tip top procrastination. It’s also really good fun, 15 minutes passes by in a flash so we just carried on.
I Felt Better
It’s not news that switching off and playing with your pets is good for your soul but it’s easy to forget in the vastness of life. I ended the week with a much longer fuse and with significantly reduced stress levels.
Spaniels are super smart but SUPER energetic, it can be hard to get them to focus when they’ve got a shed load of energy to burn off. Playing together in the garden helped wear them out just the right amount to give me their attention as opposed to a trek on the moors after which they just want to snooze. Playing each day also helped me to rank their toys (stick with me, I’m not insane). Knowing which of their playthings is their favourite makes it much easier to teach them new things – you can better choose an appropriate reward for getting the trick or behaviour right. From now on I shall only answer to Cesar Milan. Or Lassie.
The whole week reminded me of the importance of switching off from my own life and playing with intent and mindfulness. Even better (and infinitely more tangible) for every pledge to #playmore made on their website, MoreThan will donate £1 to the RSPCA – money that will go towards building a sensory garden for rescued pooches *sniff*. Make your pledge, share your pictures on Facebook and Twitter using the #playmore hashtag and for the love of dog tag me so I can perve on your pups.
For more pooch spam come follow Pete and Betty on Instagram, yep, they don’t let a lack of opposable thumbs hold them back.
MoreThan sent Pete and Betts some toys to get us started and a Whistl to keep an unhealthily beady eye on then when I wasn’t home. All evangelising about being more mindful in your playtime is mine.