Forty minutes.

That is the amount of time each day that the average pet owner spends with his pet.  This, according to The Book of Times: From Seconds to Centuries, a Compendium of Measures, a new book by Leslie Alderman that takes a closer look at how we Americans spend our days.  What's more, while the amount of money we spend on our pets has increased dramatically - from 28.5 billion in 2001 to 53 million in 2012 - the amount of time we spend with our pets has hovered around 40 minutes for the last several years.

Pets thrive from the attention of their owners.  And study after study has found that time spent with pets equates to better health for people, too.  So why not invest a few extra minutes each day to showing your favorite furry or feathered creature some love?  Here are three ways to fit more time with your pet into your already busy schedule.  

Capture little moments.  You don't need hours of free time to show your pet some love.  Talk to your pet while your doing chores around the house.  It doesn't matter what you talk about, just be sure to look in his eyes and let him know he has your attention.  Use your evening TV time to brush or dog or let your kitten snuggle on your lap while you read to the kids.  

Practice makes perfect.  Too busy to toss a ball in the backyard?  You can still give your doggie some attention by taking advantage of your time while making dinner, folding the laundry or doing paperwork to help your pet practice his obedience skills - assuming he has some skills to practice in the first place.  He can practice sit-stays, lay-down-stays, and even fetching a rolling ball if these are skills you've worked on before.  Keep the sessions easy and light - just enough to give him a skills refresher and let him soak up some attention.

Let her tagalong. If your dog or cat enjoys a change of scenery, consider taking him along in the car or on a walk the next time you have to run a few quick errands.  Just be sure that your errands won't leave your pet behind in the car for an extended period in the heat or cold.

How much time do you spend with your pet each day?

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