Show Me The Love – Game of Chess, Anyone?

Who doesn’t enjoy playing with their best four-legged friend?  There are many ways to play with your dog and the best way will depend on age, breed, activity level, fitness level, and availability.  Whatever your situation or preferences, it’s a good idea to get out outside and enjoy yourselves.  While there are more than five reasons to take your dog outside play with him, here are five compelling ones:

1.  Your Health.  Among the many health benefits associated with dog ownership are a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and death.  A PhD student in Sweden, named Mwenya Mubanda, researched the effects of of dog ownership on people.  She discovered that spending time with a dog was associated with a lower risk of heart disease and death.  She compares heart disease and mortality of dog owners versus nondog owners by using Swedens population registration database.  This database includes such details as demographic information, vital statistics and, yes, dog ownership.  Her sample size consisted of 3.4 million people.  She concluded that dog owners had a 33% lower risk of death, 36% lower chance of death by heart disease, and an 11% lower risk of heart attack than those who did not have a dog. 

2.  Your happiness.  Spending time outside in the great outdoors means you will undoubtedly get some well-needed vitamin D and exercise.  You will feel more energetic and be in better shape.  Spending time outside with your dog reduces stress.  Furthermore, your dog’s love for you and the exercise you will get while playing with him will encourage your brain to release endorphins, the feel-good hormone.  This hormone interacts with the receptors in your brain that reduce the feeling of pain.  They act in a way not un-similar to morphine.  They also aid in reducing stress and staving off depression.  Being outside on a nice day may also lead to making new friends and improving your social life.

3.  Your dog’s health and happiness.  Just as does for you, exercise has many health benefits for your dog.  Dogs need the exercise and mental stimulation that inevitably comes from being outside.  Most dogs in the United Staes could do with losing weight.  As a matter of fact, according to the October 2016 research conducted by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 54% of dogs in the U.S. are overweight or obese.  This means they are at a greater risk for developing arthritis, urinary tract diseases, diabetes, heart failure, chronic inflammation, cancer, torn ligaments, and high blood pressure, among other conditions.  Most dogs lack the opposable thumbs to turn the pages in a book, that means that reading is out of the question.  So, spending time with him outside will provide your dog with the mental stimulation required to keep him happy. 

4.  Bonding and training.  Playing with your dog is an excellent way to bond with him.  He will quickly learn that being near his favorite person means fun things can happen.  He will be more likely to stay near you and will inevitably learn to obey you while in an excited state.  Your dog will learn to give you attention in different environments.  You will unwittingly be training him.  This training will spill over to other environments.  Also, as you most likely know by now, a tired dog is a well-behaved dog.  When inside, he will be relaxed and will likely stay out of trouble.

5.  Inexpensive hobby.  No matter what your financial situation, playing outdoors with your dog is an accessible way to spend your day.  All you will need for this hobby is yourself and your furry best friend.  Think about how fit you will get and of all the money you will save on a gym membership.  Anytime is a good time to start getting healthy, especially now that spring is in the air.  Trust me, you’ll both feel better and Fido will appreciate your time together.