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How To Do a 7 Day Pet Parent Digital Detox: Get the Guide

This year I celebrate 11 years of blogging about my life with dogs here at Wear Wag Repeat. As a full-time online content creator, I feel like I’m always working. When I’m with my dogs, I feel like any cute thing they do could be potential content. I’m the ideal person for a digital detox!

It’s tempting to get sucked into capturing every moment. Even if you’re not a full-time pet content creator like me, there’s still pressure to document every aspect of your dog’s life in a video or photo.

But, as pet parents, we often don’t realize how much of our free time we spend on digital devices. This level of distraction can impact our mental health, our relationship with our pets, and the whole family.

Several years ago, I realized that being on my phone and trying to snap a photo of every moment with my dogs was preventing me from truly living my life with them. Since then, I’ve found that reducing screen time is the best way to enjoy more quality moments with my dogs and improve my mental health.

So in this post, I want to share with you a 7-day digital detox plan for pet owners. This plan will help you create new healthy habits that benefit both you and your dog. If you have more ideas, please share them in the comments.

pet parent digital detox plan

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7-Day Pet Parent Digital Detox

Studies say that it takes 28 days to form a new habit. In this post, I’ll share a 7-day pet parents digital detox plan to set you up for success. At the end I provide some extra tips if you want to continue and build healthy tech use habits for 28 days, too!

Using fewer digital devices and being more present in my dog’s lives has made me so much happier! If you feel anxious, stressed, or depressed by social media, give my weeklong plan a try and see how you (and your dog!) feel.

This plan is based on my personal experiences of reducing the time I spend in the digital world. The real world – where my dogs are – is much more fun!

Here’s the 7-Day plan overview and below are more details to help you make this week a success:

  1. Day 1: Set Your Intention + Create Boundaries
  2. Day 2: Set Time Limits on Your Apps
  3. Day 3: Makeover Your Morning Routine
  4. Day 4: Take a Dog Walk Without your Phone
  5. Day 5: Have a Digital-Free Evening with your Dog
  6. Day 6: Discover the Calming Effects of Nature
  7. Day 7: Reflect on Your Week

Day 1: Set Your Intention + Create Boundaries

I always say that you can’t achieve your goal if you don’t set one in the first place. So for the first day, we’re easing into this digital detox by getting clear on your intentions for the week. Ask yourself how you want to feel at the end of this. Another way to approach this is to think about what you don’t like about the amount of time you spend on digital devices and in front of digital screens each day.

Get clear on what your objective is so that at the end of the week you can feel proud of your accomplishment.

One more thing to do today is to communicate to your friends, family, and (perhaps) co-workers about your digital detox week. If there are people who rely on getting hold of you, make sure to tell them about your availability this week. You can clearly tell them when you plan to respond to work emails, when you’ll be available for family time, etc.

The whole point of this digital detox plan is to reduce your stress, so don’t create stress for people who can’t reach you.

Be clear with yourself and the people in your life about your availability during your digital detox. If you have a friend that you love to text with, maybe plan a time to take a dog walk together or grab a coffee at a dog friendly cafe together this week instead of communicating through your devices.

Day 2: Set Time Limits on Your Apps

The best way to ease into spending less time on your digital devices is by removing the temptation.

On your smartphone, go into settings, then screen tome and set up app limits and downtime. I have downtime set from 10 pm – 7 am. That helps me look at my smartphone less before bed and it also ensures that the first part of my day is spent letting the dogs out, feeding them breakfast, and giving them my attention before I access any apps.

For app limits, you can set a daily time limit for categories of apps. Since social media accounts are so addictive, I set a limit of 1 hour per day on social media apps. Of course, you can override this – ask for 1 more minute, 15 more minutes, or unlimited access for the day – but I try to force myself to respect the limit I set.

As a content creator, this forces me to prioritize posting my own content first. Once my post is done, I can scroll around. If I waste too much time scrolling and time runs out, I know that I’m not prioritizing my work or putting my needs first.

Day 3: Makeover Your Morning Routine

Start your day without screens. I recommend charging your phone or other smart devices in a different room overnight so it’s not the first thing you grab when you wake up.

Practical tip: If you rely on your smartphone as an alarm clock, it’s a good idea to buy an old-fashioned analog alarm so you can make the most of this pet parent digital detox. Or get the Phillips SmartSleep sunrise alarm clock that I have. It gradually gets brighter and wakes me up with bird sounds. It’s made my mornings so much more pleasant!

Instead of grabbing your phone in the morning, spend the first part of your day with your dog. Live in the moment as you serve them nutritious breakfast. Then throw on a sweatshirt and some sneakers, grab a leash, and go for a walk before the day even starts.

Starting your day with a mindful walk sets a positive tone for the day. This routine will help reduce stress, improve your physical health, and even improve your focus because you’re not starting the day with a million distractions, alerts, and notifications on smart phones.

Not to mention, being exposed to sunlight first thing in the day and getting a little exercise is really healthy! Plus, your dog will start the day on the right paw.

Rebooting the Belt Bag (Formerly Known as a Fanny Pack!)

Day 4: Take a Dog Walk Without your Phone

I love to listen to podcasts when I walk my dogs. I consume 1-2 hours of podcasts almost every day because I always have one queued up for our walks.

For this 7-day digital detox, on day 4 I want you to start taking walks without your smartphone. That means no podcasts, music or phone calls. You also won’t be tracking your steps. That’s OK! We can’t measure the relationship we have with our dogs in our daily step count anyhow!

Focus on walking your dog and being in the moment with them.

A good idea is to swap your phone for some healthy dog treats and you can work on a little light dog training on your walks, too. One of my favorite cues to practice with my dog is “look” or “watch me”. Making eye contact with your dog releases dopamine for both of you, so that’s a great way to strengthen your bond during this digital detox week.

Day 5: Have a Digital-Free Evening with your Dog

Now that you’re experiencing dog walks without devices, let’s take it a step further and have a device-free evening! I know we all love a good Netflix and chill on the couch with the dog, but there are other options.

Cook dinner for yourself following a recipe in a cookbook – yes those still exist! Your local library has an awesome selection. Bonus points if you reserve some dog-safe morsels of your dinner to share with your dog. Fruits and veggies are great healthy little snacks to share.

After dinner, take a walk, sit on the stoop, or read a book while petting your dog. Reducing screen time in the evening improves the quality of your sleep. So look forward to waking up well-rested and ready for a screen-free morning with your dog!

Dog Friendly Raleigh Is Full Of Art And Design

Day 6: Discover the Calming Effects of Nature

If you start this pet parent digital detox challenge on a Monday, Day 6 brings us to Saturday. The perfect day for outdoor activities and exploring nature with your dog!

Check out a new-to-you park, have a dog-friendly picnic with your friends, or try something new like stand-up paddleboarding with your dog. Leave your smartphone in the car or stashed away in your backpack. Resist the urge to document your day! Instead, you can live in the moment with your dog and the friends you make along the way.

By this point in the challenge, you should be feeling less stressed. Being in nature surrounded by trees is going to make any lingering stress fade away.  There are natural chemicals found in forest plants called terpenes that have a ton of health benefits includeing reducing inflammation, elevating your mood, better sleep, less stress, and helping your memory.

See? You don’t even need to document this outdoor adventure day on your phone. Your memory of the day will be clear thanks to the terpenes in the trees!

Day 7: Reflect on Your Week

Now that you made it to day 7 of this pet parent digital detox it’s time to reflect on the week. Pull out your journal and write down anything memorable that happened with your dog. Maybe you were able to make progress on some training, or you watched them do something really sweet on your walks.

You also reflect on how you met the intentions and goals that you set at the start of this challenge. Were you able to stick with it?

Think about how you felt this week and how it impacted the quality time spent with your dog. What parts of this digital detox would you like to bring into your regular day-to-day life?

Building a Realistic Habit Over 28 Days

The key to keeping this positive feeling going is to build up a habit. It takes 28 days to build a new habit. The good news is, you’re already 1/4 of the way there!

Here are some tips to keep your pet parent digital detox lifestyle going:

  1. Set realistic goals: Set realistic expectations for your screen time moving forward. For example, look at your average screen time and aim to reduce it by 30 minutes per week.
  2. Scheduled Breaks: Incorporate regular digital detox periods into your day. Use apps or alarms to remind you to take breaks.
  3. Screen-Free Zones: Designate certain areas of your home as screen-free zones. As a dog mom, you might want to designate a certain area as the dog zone and make that device-free!
  4. Alternative Activities: Replace screen time with activities you enjoy, such as reading, spending time with your dog, or meeting up with dog friends in the park or at a local dog-friendly cafe.
  5. Accountability Partner: Share your goals with a friend. They might want to support you by going on phone-free walks once a week or once a month.
  6. Mindful Use: When using digital technology, be mindful of your purpose. Avoid mindless scrolling by setting time limits for social media and other non-essential activities. In other words, do what you need to do on your smartphone, then put it away.
  7. End-of-Day Reflection: Spend a few minutes each night reflecting on your screen and phone use, celebrating successes, and noting special moments you shared with your dog.

Did you enjoy this post? I have more great content about dog mom mental health:
Dog Mom Mentality: Normalizing Mental Health for Pet Parents
How Emotional Wellness Enhances Dog Training
Keeping Up with the Joneses: Dealing with Dog Mom Guilt
Cognitive Enrichment for Dogs

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