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An update from the world of canine wellness news: Dog meditation is officially I thing. But before you (and your pup) roll your eyes, know that it’s much less kooky than it sounds—and it could have real health benefits for both of you.
Meditation—and mindfulness, the in-the-present mental state it brings—have been shown to improve your sleep, lower your body’s reaction to stress, increase empathy, and help treat high blood pressure, inflammation, even psoriasis. And (duh alert) moving your body, like when you walk or jog with your pup, has tons of benefits in the physical and mental health departments. Last year, research published in Translational Psychiatry confirmed that it’s not all ‘in our heads’: the combo of meditating and exercising reduced depression and made healthy humans feel happier. So it only makes sense to combine meditating with another thing we know makes people happier: dogs!
But before we get into meditating together, it’s important to understand a few basics. “There are many different types of meditation, and they’re all meant to help you focus your mind,” says Jenn Sturiale, founder of Mutt Meditation. One form that lends itself particularly well to doing with your dog is walking meditation: Traditionally, you take super-slow steps in a confined area, focusing hard on the act of lifting your knee, setting down your heel, rolling through your foot, and so on. “The idea is to focus your mind on the present moment, not where you should be going or what you should be doing,” she explains.
The concept of meditating during dog walks came to Sturiale as a way to connect better with her pet at a time when she normally felt distracted. “I’ve found I return from walks much calmer and with a quieter mind and usually a happier disposition,” she says, “and I’ve appreciated the time spent with my dog and watching him interact with the world. It changes it from a to-do list item to a connective, joyful experience.”
So it’s really a human-canine win-win: You’ll experience a dose of stress relief, rejuvenation, and increased bonding with your dog; and he or she will benefit by picking up on your calm vibes and likely getting a better walk out of the deal (because you’re actually paying attention instead of mentally constructing a grocery list!) Ready to give mutt meditation a try? Follow these four simple steps the next time you put on your pup’s leash.
The Ollie blog is devoted to helping pet parents lead healthier lives with their pups. If you want to learn more about our fresh, human-grade food, check out MyOllie.com.
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