Daily walks are a fantastic way to bond with your dog, and to let them know that you care about their well-being!
Us responsible pet-owners know that daily, or even twice-daily, walks are an absolute necessity!
But a recent survey done by the State Journal-Register showed that only HALF of all dog owners make sure their dog goes on a walk every day!! Say what? (I bet you’re feeling better about yourself already!)
For your dog, it has drastic health benefits (and obviously, health risks if you fail to do it). Walking keeps a dog’s weight down by a whopping 15%, and of course if you don’t walk your dog it won’t get the socialization and stimulation it needs.
But, what about “socializing” with its owner…Doesn’t it benefit both of you to walk and bond with your dog?
Science says, YES!
It has to do with the hormone oxytocin, which you might have heard of before because it helps cause a positive feedback loop of love between you and your loved ones! But it wasn’t until 2015 that a study showed the same oxytocin bond happens between you and your dog! Maybe that’s a little weird, but the study said that the reaction was similar to the bonding effect between a mother and child.
And sure, even if science only just proved three years ago that you can love your dogs as much as you love your kids, that’s probably no surprise to you if you love your dog as much as I love my Samson!!
But the interesting takeaway is this: when you bond with your dog, “a common network of brain areas related to emotion, reward, and affiliation is activated.”
Why is that important for exercising? Well, every time you exercise with your dog, oxytocin is released and rewards your brain! So, your mind is learning that exercise creates the reward, bonding with your dog creates the reward…and so, I can only conclude, walking/running with your dog creates a double chemical reward…for both of you!!
What if I’m super inspired by this and want to go for RUNS with my dog, now?
Well, that’s awesome, but the saying “you need to walk before you can run” applies to dogs, too. I know that none of us would ever purposely over-exert our dogs…and we think we know when our dog is tired…but there are lots of factors that = tired dog, even if the fur baby doesn’t complain:
- Dog’s age and size
- Fitness level of the dog (They have to work up to being fit enough to run, just like humans do…lots of people don’t know that!!)
- Cold/hot weather (Hot concrete can hurt your dog’s paw pads, and also, some breeds are not good at cooling their bodies.
- The breed (Dogs with cute little smushy faces have short sinus passages, no good for running!)
If you’re responsible by walking your dog every day, and also responsible enough to know when to quit, vs. when to R-U-N!…you’ll be a lot happier for it!
In fact, dog walkers are 35% less likely to be depressed than non dog-walkers!
Obviously, you’ve got the regular benefits of exercise from walking your dog, too. Lower blood pressure and balanced blood sugar…a healthier heart, and less stress because of the oxytocin and endorphins.
And the exact same goes for your dog! If you don’t want your fluffy boy or girl getting cardiovascular issues or diabetes, daily walks are the best place to start, and one of the best ways to bond with your dog.
Your furry friend will thank you! (Samson just barked to say he agrees!!)