Blog post by Amber Quann KPA-CTP, CPDT-KSA

Multi-tasking is a favorite pastime for many of us, myself included. Why do only one thing when you can be doing many things at once?!?!

With the advent of technology, our addiction to multi-tasking has become even more easy to feed. I find myself checking my email on my phone while making breakfast, returning phone calls while washing dishes, and catching up on social media while half-heartedly folding laundry.

While doubling up on these mundane tasks may seem innocent enough, I’ve recently become aware of another pattern to my multi-tasking that is less harmless.

I often multi-task on activities with my dog. It’s so easy to pet him with one hand and scroll Instagram with the other. It’s very convenient to return phone calls while walking our daily morning and evening walks. That’s 1.5 hours EVERY DAY that is just asking to be put to more than one use!

But just like excessive technology use can impact our relationships with other humans, I think this tendency to consistently split our engagement between our dogs and distracting technology has real consequences for our relationships.

Engagement creates engagement - if I engage with my dog, he is more likely to engage with me. Conversely, if I disengage from my dog, he is more likely to disengage from me. While this isn’t the end of the world every now and then, if it is the norm on our activities together, it’s no surprise that the disengagement behavior becomes way more reinforcing to the dog than engaging.

So, a challenge for all of us:

Let’s be intentional about our technology use around our dogs. Let’s choose complete engagement as much as we can. Put down your phone when you pet your dog. Leave your phone at home when you head out for your daily walk. Show your dog that you are engaged completely with him on the activities you are sharing together.