e-book 15 Minutes to a Great Dog

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Jack Stephens, founder of Veterinary Pet Insurance, a nationwide insurer of pet medical coverage. Johnson's study expanded on research conducted in by South African scientists who found that 15 minutes of quietly stroking a dog caused hormonal changes that were beneficial to both the dog and the human. But the South African study was small, involving only 18 people and a few friendly dogs, and didn't test for serotonin, the brain chemical strongly linked with depression. Increased levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin make us more mentally alert, improve sleep and can make us less sensitive to pain.

Comparable to eating chocolate In the larger Missouri study, 50 dog owners and 50 non-dog owners over the age of 18 sat in a quiet room for 15 to 39 minutes with their own dog, a friendly but strange dog, and a robotic dog. The robotic dog was included because electronic pooches, such as Sony's AIBO, are being studied as a possible resource for the elderly who can't look after a live animal.

Rates of women who are opting for preventive mastectomies, such as Angeline Jolie, have increased by an estimated 50 percent in recent years, experts say. But many doctors are puzzled because the operation doesn't carry a percent guarantee, it's major surgery -- and women have other options, from a once-a-day pill to careful monitoring. Each session involved calm stroking or petting. Researchers checked blood samples of both the humans and dogs at the beginning of each session and monitored their blood pressure every five minutes. The dogs' blood pressure dropped as soon as they were petted.

The humans' blood pressure dropped by approximately 10 percent about 15 to 30 minutes after they began petting the animal, at which point blood was again drawn. Johnson's study found that serotonin levels increased when interacting with the human's own dog, but not with the unfamiliar animal. And serotonin actually decreased when interacting with the robotic dog. Alan Beck, director of the Center for the Human-Animal Bond at Purdue University, says the serotonin changes reveal the "mechanism" of how pets influence our health.

Not just learned behavior In other words, the warm feeling we get from our dogs and other pets isn't just a learned behavior, Beck says, but something that's hard-wired into humans so that the presence of animals can help us stay well and even recover from illnesses. Studies involving other pets While Johnson doesn't advise patients to throw away their antidepressants and instead get a dog, she says animal therapy could be used as an adjunct to depression treatment. And it's not just dogs that are being studied for their therapeutic power.


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Puppies need much less exercise than fully-grown dogs. If you over-exercise a growing puppy you can overtire it and damage its developing joints, causing early arthritis. A good rule of thumb is a ratio of five minutes exercise per month of age up to twice a day until the puppy is fully grown, i. Once they are fully grown, they can go out for much longer. It is important that puppies and dogs go out for exercise every day in a safe and secure area, or they may become frustrated.

Before You Head Out the Door

Time spent in the garden however large is no substitute for exploring new environments and socialising with other dogs. This content may be copied in full, with copyright, contact, creation and information intact, without specific permission, when used only in a not-for-profit format.

If any other use is desired, permission in writing from Mercola. View our privacy policy. Most dog breeds were developed with a specific purpose in mind, for example, sporting, working, herding and so forth. Consequently, whether your pet is a purebred or mixed breed, chances are he carries genetic traits that drive him to pursue an activity. Generally, people walk their dog for 4 reasons: elimination, mental stimulation, exercise, and training. Dogs like to go for walks to get outdoors, sniff and engage with their environment, exercise, and perhaps socialize with people and dogs outside the home.

There is no reason that a walk cannot encompass and meet all the needs of both humans and dogs. Because time is often at a premium, it is useful to help owners understand and find creative ways to meet these needs. She should already have her own secure-fitting collar or harness and ID tag, and she should be used to wearing it before you attempt to take her for walks. Some puppies have no problem wearing a collar; others do. Don't try to take your pup for a walk if she protests wearing a collar. Get her used to wearing her collar first.

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As with the collar, this needs to happen before you attempt to attach a leash and head out the door. Attach about four feet of light line -- cotton awning cord or light cotton rope will do — and let your puppy drag it around the house with her under your watchful eye, of course. Once your pup is used to the four-foot line, swap it for a 10 to 15 foot line of the same material, and head outdoors.


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  • Initial walks should be short for most puppies — the main goal is to get your dog used to being attached to you by a lead. Find a safe environment. Allow puppy to drag the line behind him for a bit, then pick up the opposite end. Let him lead you around for a few seconds while you hold the line just off the ground.

    Puppy and dog walking tips

    Take a short break for praise and a little playtime. Next, let him trail the line again, but when you pick up your end this time, call him and stand still. If he pulls, hold your ground without pulling him in your direction. The goal is to teach him to put slack in the line himself by moving toward you. When he puts slack in the line, praise him and call him to you.

    If he comes all the way to you, more praise and a training treat are in order. If he stops on his way to you, tighten the line just enough to apply a tiny bit of pull to it. Immediately call him to come again. Give praise as he moves toward you and treats when he comes all the way back.