Connect with your dog on a deeper level with these suggestions.
We’ve been talking this month about connecting. With neighbors. With kids who need us in emergencies. And with friends and family while we’re moving our bodies, as a way to stay healthy. Well, don’t forget connecting with our dogs, because about 60 percent of American households have one or more, according to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association. For this week’s Healthy Habit, let’s look at ways to connect with a dog on a deeper level.
- Say nice things. Researcher Gregory Burns has been working with MRIs to figure out what parts of a dog’s brain lights up, based on food or rewards. His work showed that dogs responded the same to hot dogs and praise—here we thought they were all about the kibble!—and 20 percent of dogs actually responded more favorably to praise alone. So talk Fido up; he’ll love it and you’ll enjoy the positive loop, too.
- Gaze at your dog. According to the website Dogtime, dogs and humans are flooded with the feel-good hormone oxytocin when they look into each other’s eyes.
- Chant with your dog. We often share of love of nature with dogs by taking them to the beach with us, on hikes or on rambles through the woods. Why not introduce them to our spiritual side? Invite your dog into the room as you do your morning chanting, or play spiritual music in your dog’s presence.
- Share your bedroom with your dog. A new study from the Mayo Clinic found that people sleep better and have a greater sense of security and comfort if they sleep with their pets. However, there was one caveat: keep your dog off to the side in a separate dog bed, rather than under your own covers, for optimal sleeping conditions.
- Volunteer together. Share the love you feel by visiting a nursing home or hospital via a visiting dog program. Your dog will be showered with affection and feel useful—and you’ll both feel great.