Get active with animals in leisure time - photography, drawing, reading, discovery, taking a course in animal care

Leisure time is very precious to most of us - it's a chance to unwind and indulge in something we find of interest and want to have  go at.  There are a number of ways you can enjoy leisure time with animals - these activities are the sorts of things you can do in your spare time even when it's cold, wet and miserable outside and you just want to curl up by the fire or equally just chill on a warm sunny day. 

Animals make great subjects for photography, whether it's your own pets at home (or someone else's!) or wildlife, perhaps on a wildlife photography experience day.  There are also wildlife photography courses and wildlife photography experience days you can do to improve your skills, techniques & knowldge.  Or you can simply practice your photography on your pets at home

Animal magazines are a welcome relief to see when you arrive home - a welcome change, too, from brown envelopes with bills, unwanted junk mail, and the other stuff you toss aside.  Many charities send out a magazine with their membership, or you can subscribe through various online retailers for certain periods of time.  These can provide perfect reading and indulgence time when you're commuting too (if you're not driving!)

Pocketmags has lots of great value magazine subscriptions covering many different sorts of animals, including dogs!
Pocketmags has lots of great value magazine subscriptions
covering many different sorts of animals, including dogs!
And there are some great offers on!
Fetch more information here.

If you enjoy knitting, you could knit squares for your local animal charity.  My aunt in New Zealand, now well into her 80s, does this and she's been pictured in the local paper with her knitting needles, a cat and her squares.  There's a list of animal charities which need knitters here.

Knitted Cats & Dogs is available from
Knitted Cats & Dogs is available from

Animal Care Courses
If you're interested in what you're studying, it makes all the difference.  There are a wide range of animal care courses available these days - some are preparing students for a chosen career path but there are also tons of courses on offer. The National Trust for instance has a programme of informal courses for adults, and talks. Click here to delve furtherWildlife Trusts also offer a considerable range of short couses - our offering in Sussex is just fantastic. Click here to visit The Wildlife Trust  - there are 46 local Trusts in the UK, so hopefully you will be able to find one near you.  For more animal care courses, click here

Grooming your pet
This can be amazingly therapeutic.  I spent an hour brushing our dog last week.  He lay on his back with his paws in the air (which made it tricky to get to some bits), while I brushed away and watched an hour of TV. It was a very happy hour. Groom your pet and see how much more relaxed you feel afterwards.  Of course, some pets enjoy it, some tolerate it, and some absolutely hate it, so you need to take your pet's thoughts on being groomed into account.  

I was no artist at school - I didn't even make it to GCSE level.  However, in recent years I've spent some time trying to capture Trouble in drawings.  They've been very fast - sort of a Rolf Harris speed - because he always seems to know when I'm trying to draw him and he moves after three or four minutes.  Nonetheless, my efforts have given me great pleasure, lots of relaxation, some frustration - and pictures which now look a bit like him.  You don't need a full artists kit to get going - just get some paper and a pencil to start you off.  There are lots of useful videos on You Tube to help you, including these from the Cartooning Club. 

Writing can be a great way to unwind - it can also be a practiced craft (Speaking of which, you could also pratice crafts with an animal theme.)  There are some good writing courses you can do from home, such as the long established Writers Bureau, or you can go at it on a more informal basis, perhaps writing short stories about animals, or more factual articles.  Whether you want to get published or not, that's a decision to ponder!  You could of course start your own blog - perhaps about an animal species you particularly care about or a cause with an animal theme.

Getting active with your hands and enjoying animal-related craft activities can provide hours of fun and enjoyment for people of all ages.  Why not get knitting for animal charities?