Start Your Day Off Right. The Benefits of Morning Dog Walks

Introduction

More than 50% of dog owners say that walking their dog in the morning helps them get into a routine and begin each day with a positive energy. A calm, rewarding start to the day does wonders for reducing stress and setting you up for success. Research shows that morning dog walking leads to lower cortisol levels, improved focus, and a stronger human-animal bond. When you and your dog step out into the crisp morning air together, you’ll both reap the mental and physical benefits.

Sets a Healthy Tone for the Day

Starting your day with a morning walk with your dog gets you active first thing in the morning. This jumpstarts your metabolism, increases your energy levels, and stimulates your mind and body to be alert and engaged for the rest of the day ahead (1). Exercise triggers the release of endorphins, which are feel-good neurotransmitters that can instantly lift your mood. This helps set a positive tone that makes you feel motivated and productive going into your workday (2). Research shows that exercising in the morning results in higher productivity compared to being sedentary (3).

morning dog walks set positive tone for the day

(1) https://www.piedmont.org/living-real-change/5-benefits-of-morning-exercise
(2) https://www.forbes.com/sites/tracybrower/2023/09/24/for-pay-productivity-and-wellbeing-data-points-to-the-power-of-exercise/
(3) https://www.businessinsider.com/how-morning-exercise-can-increase-productivity-2018-11

Helps You Destress

Walking your dog in the morning can help reduce stress levels and lower your cortisol, the hormone associated with stress. Exposure to morning sunlight helps regulate your circadian rhythm and cortisol levels, reducing anxiety and promoting better sleep (1). Additionally, stroking and interacting with your dog releases oxytocin, the “love hormone” that promotes feelings of affection, bonding, trust and well-being (2). The combined effect of morning light exposure and cuddling with your pup during an early walk can boost mood, reduce anxiety and set a calm, relaxed tone for the rest of your day.

(1) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8465204/

(2) https://askasanimals.org/cortisol-and-your-dogs-brain/

Strengthens Your Bond

Walking your dog first thing in the morning provides dedicated one-on-one time to strengthen the bond between you and your furry friend. With fewer distractions from other people or animals, morning walks allow you to focus completely on your dog. This quality time together helps reinforce your position as pack leader and allows your dog to see you as their trusted companion.

morning walks strengthen bond between owner and dog

Morning walks are often when dogs are calmest and most attentive. According to pet experts, having a consistent morning routine helps dogs understand their place and purpose, while stimulating oxytocin – the “love hormone” in both dogs and humans. Simple acts like putting on a leash or collar in the morning triggers the reward system in your dog’s brain, releasing feel-good chemicals associated with you. Over time, this helps create a deep attachment and loyalty.

Pet owners on Reddit widely report stronger bonds with dogs after establishing a regular early walk schedule. One user said their rescue dog went from timid and unsure to confident and affectionate after 3 weeks of morning walks together. Another said it’s “such a quality bonding time with very few distractions” and that their dog is always at his “least stressed and best” during their special time in the AM.

So if you want to become your dog’s favorite human, a morning walk routine is one of the best ways to make it happen. The focused one-on-one attention will improve your relationship exponentially.

Source:
https://www.reddit.com/r/reactivedogs/comments/q36ge3/arent_early_morning_walks_the_best/

Aids Digestion

Taking a short walk after eating a meal can help stimulate digestion and move food through your gastrointestinal tract. The physical movement involved in walking helps increase motility in the digestive tract, encouraging intestinal muscle contractions to efficiently move food through the intestines (https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/walking-after-eating). This can help prevent issues like bloating, gas, constipation and indigestion.

Specifically, walking gently jostles the stomach and intestines, helping release digestive juices like bile that aid the breakdown of food. The movement and muscle contractions also help push stool through the intestines for healthy bowel movements (https://doctors-hospital.net/blog/entry/5-benefits-of-walking-after-eating). Studies show that moderate walking for 30 minutes after a meal results in more frequent bowel movements compared to sitting at rest after eating.

So if you frequently deal with digestive discomfort or constipation, going for a light walk after breakfast, lunch or dinner may help get your digestive system moving.

Social Opportunity

Walking your dog in the morning provides a great chance to meet neighbors and other dog owners in your community. According to one source, dog walking “provides opportunities to meet neighbors and other people walking their dogs. Having these social interactions can decrease feelings of loneliness and isolation” (Dog Walking: The Health Benefits of Walks with Your Dog). Morning is often a time when many people are out walking their dogs before work or starting their day, so you’re more likely to run into fellow dog lovers. These casual social interactions can make you feel more connected and happier.

social interactions while walking dogs in morning

Mental Stimulation

Walking your dog in the morning provides important mental stimulation through exposure to new sights, sounds, and especially smells. According to research from Outdoor Dog Adventures, “Dogs crave enrichment on their walks, and sniffing provides them with crucial mental stimulation.”1 As your dog sniffs and explores the environment on their morning walk, their mind is actively working to process all the new sensory information.

This cognitive enrichment is vital to your dog’s health and happiness. WagWalking explains, “Changing the walk route allows the dog to encounter novel scents and sights, which gives their brain a workout.”2 Morning walks provide daily novelty before the workday routine sets in. Over time, this mental stimulation can even help reduce anxiety and unwanted behaviors.

Better Behavior

Dogs who get adequate physical and mental exercise are less likely to develop behavior problems stemming from boredom or excess energy. According to the VCA Hospitals, regular activity and interactive play help satisfy a dog’s instincts and needs, which leads to a calmer and better behaved pet. Tired dogs are less likely to get into trouble by chewing, digging, or other destructive behaviors. Exercise also stimulates the brain through mental challenges, sensory stimulation, and social interaction.

better behaved dogs through morning exercise

The American Kennel Club recommends exercising your dog for 30-60 minutes daily, using a combination of walks and engaging play. Establishing an exercise routine first thing in the morning ensures your dog starts the day productively. Take your dog for a longer walk or jog, play a game of fetch, or work on a training session. Meeting their needs for activity and attention early on can prevent problem behaviors later when left alone.

Consistency

Taking your dog for a morning walk helps establish a healthy routine for both you and your pup. Dogs thrive on consistency and scheduling. Starting each day with a brisk morning walk helps get your dog’s digestive system moving and provides them with a sense of predictability in their life (Source). Knowing when to expect their daily walk helps avoid anxious or destructive behaviors that can arise when dogs become bored. Setting a regular morning walking schedule makes it easier to maintain the habit long-term. Over time, you and your dog will come to count on and look forward to your daily morning ritual.

Conclusion

In conclusion, walking your dog in the morning provides numerous benefits for both you and your pet. It sets a healthy tone for your day by getting your body moving and blood flowing first thing in the AM. It’s also a great stress reliever to start your day on a calm, positive note. Walking together strengthens the bond between you and your dog through quality one-on-one time. It also aids your dog’s digestion and provides mental stimulation. Morning walks present social opportunities for you and your dog to interact with other people and pups in your neighborhood. Consistency with a morning routine creates positive habits for you and establishes better behavior patterns for your dog. To enjoy all of these benefits for you and your furry friend, commit to a morning walk routine.

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