All dog owners know it: we get up feeling either so energetic and happy or just pure sht, we get up, nonetheless, to grab that leash and head outdoors with our beloved buddy.
It's a good exercise! Sure. But why do we do that, really? Why do we love walking our dog?
Merely having a dog has been showed to already provide health benefits. But our main motivation for regularly walking them isn't exactly because of that. Researchers analyzed interviews and personal written reflections of 26 people telling their specific reasons why they walk their dogs. The result?
Well, a lot of owners say they wanted to make their buddy healthy but it's also clear how they do it to be happy. Yes, it's because of that friggin emotion--happiness. This also depended on whether the dog is believed to enjoy the walk as well.
Owners' motivation for getting up and moving, and pounding the pavement with one's pup actually decreased when they feel their dog was misbehaving, being "lazy", or “too old” to walk regularly. This suggests that we love doing things with our dogs because of the health benefits we acquire from it even though that's not our primary goal.
“Dog walking can be really important for our mental health, and there is no joy like seeing your dog having a good time,” says lead author Carri Westgarth, PhD, of the University of Liverpool. “In this age of information and work overload, let’s thank our dogs for—in the main—being such a positive influence on our well-being.”
So, go ahead and try new or longer routes, explore other possible bonding time with your dog (i.e. playing fetch), “leave the mobile and worries at home and try to focus on observing our dog and appreciating our surroundings.” Westgarth recommends.
And for those who don't have their buddy yet (and never plans on getting one), volunteering to walk someone else’s dog (or a shelter dog) can be beneficial too! “In particular, older people can really benefit from the company of a dog and motivation to go for a short walk,” says Westgarth.
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