No, I’m not going to tell you how exercise will keep you and your dog slim.
I will tell you that getting off your butt is good for your brain. And your dog’s brain too.
Find Your Creativity Outdoors
How many times have you found yourself staring at your computer screen trying to think of something to write? After a while, you go looking for inspiration—on Facebook, Pinterest, and old emails.
Before you know it, an hour has slipped by. And you’re no closer to writing something amazing than you were before.
But your dog holds the answer to your problem. All you have to do is take her for a walk.
Scientific studies show that getting outdoors improves productivity and hiking can increase creativity. Sounds like you have a perfect excuse to take your dog out.
But does it help your dog as much as it helps you?
What Walking Does For Your Dog
Until someone invents a portable MRI, we don’t know exactly what walking does for dogs.
Although I didn’t find a single scientific study on the benefits of walking for dogs, most people assume it’s true. A tired dog is a good dog, after all. And some people think walking is so important for dogs they advocate for using treadmills if a person can’t walk her dog for an hour or more at a time.
But people who advocate a forced march or a treadmill are missing the point of a walk.
Yes, we need to exercise our dogs’ bodies like we need to exercise our own. But we also need to exercise their minds. And marching around the blocks or trotting on a treadmill do little for the human or canine brain.
Eventually, science will back me up.
How to Walk a Dog
I’ve never equalled the physical energy of a young, healthy, mid-sized dog. If a good walk means physically tiring Honey out, we’ve never had a good walk.
But how about using a walk to reboot the brain and its creativity—like humans do?
A good dog walk includes
- variety – change your route to see and smell different things each time
- surprises – no rule says a walk means continual walking. Break up your walk with a game of “fetch the pine cone” or play tug with a branch.
- a change in pace – sometimes we stop every two seconds to sniff, other times we run
- different terrain – sidewalks get dull so we climb steps, crawl through tunnels, and scramble over rocks or playground equipment
- togetherness – leave the stupid cell phone home. Or, if you keep it for safety, turn off the ringer.
Do I follow my own advice all the time? Truthfully? No.
But we do for most walks. Because I have a good teacher.
Letting Honey Lead
I haven’t walked Honey yet. It’s grey, cold, and windy outside. I’m not feeling inspired to head outside, and certainly not for an hour at a time.
But now I’m accountable. To you, yes. But also to Honey.
She’s a smart girl who needs to exercise her brain.
Luckily, I have faith. I know that as soon as we get outside we’ll both have fun. Honey will sniff out all kinds of interesting things. I’ll keep my eyes open for a fun object to play with.
Sometimes I’ll pick the route. Sometimes Honey will.
And when we return home, Honey’s brain will be tired. And mine will be primed to creative work. After all, what’s good for the dog is good for me too.
Thanks for the Challenge
During the recent Blog the Change for Animals, I announced that my theme for the year’s posts would be showing how working for animal welfare benefits humans as much as it does other animals. And I asked you to challenge me to show the human benefits of your favorite causes.
I’m having trouble limiting myself to three posts so I’ll be using some of your ideas in my weekly Good for the Dog; Good for you features. Thank you.
Do you get outside when you need creative inspiration? Does your dog help?