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Run for Your Quality of Your Dog's Life


Despite that risk, I never considered not exercising her, and I’m certainly not advising skipping out on getting a little bit of exercise if that’s all you can do. Exercise and the outings involved in getting it have benefits well beyond those provided by elevated endocannabinoids. There’s value in understanding the effects of various amounts of exercise on our dogs; various types of exercise, from hiking to swimming to playing tug, may have different effects as well.

Though we did not exercise her as much as Emily does, we made a good effort. Super Bee even seemed tired (or should I say contented?) a couple of times! It didn’t last long, but we’re still proud of our accomplishment. It probably contributed to Super Bee’s model behavior while she was with us.

Besides the well-known physical benefits of exercise, its psychological and behavioral benefits are profound and contribute to a high quality of life. The reduction of annoying behaviors and the good behavior that arises directly or indirectly from exercise certainly make the beautiful relationship between people and dogs that much better. What more could we want for our dogs than the highest quality of life, minimal anxiety, the most elevated feelings of contentedness and the best possible relationship with us?



This article first appeared in The Bark,
Issue 76: Winter 2013

Karen B. London, PhD, is a Bark columnist and a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist specializing in the evaluation and treatment of serious behavior problems in the domestic dog.

Photo by Blazej Lyjak

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Submitted by Anonymous | January 27 2014 |

Dear Karen,

Page two of your article, Run for Your Quality of Your Dog's Life
Strategies for both you and your dog, you stated the following:

“A study by Raichlen et al. (2012), “Wired to run: exercise-induced endocannabinoid signaling in humans and cursorial mammals with implications for the ‘runner’s high,’” investigated the phenomenon. The researchers predicted that running would result in chemical reactions in the brain associated with pleasure in species with a history of endurance running, but not in species whose natural history does not include running. They studied three types of mammals—humans, dogs and ferrets—and found that the two with distance running in their evolutionary pasts (humans and dogs) exhibit elevated levels of one particular endocannabinoid (anandamide) after running on a treadmill. Ferrets, noncursorial animals, had no such chemical response.

I now like to contribute to your comment:
The following was a ‘treadmill trial’ of six males and four females human runners and is a hypothesis:

Eur J Appl Physiol (2013) 113:869–875
Exercise-induced endocannabinoid signaling is modulated by intensity
by David A. Raichlen et al

Here are a few snippets from the publication:

1) “Our results are consistent with intensity-dependent psychological state changes with exercise and therefore support the hypothesis that eCB activity is related to neurobiological effects of exercise.”

2) “Subjects came to the laboratory on five separate occasions at the same time of day for each visit. The first day was a general information session to let them become familiar with the procedures and requirements of the study.

3) “In conclusion, exercise activates the eCB system in a narrow window of exercise intensities. Our results suggest that studies specifically testing for the neurobiological effects of eCB signaling must take into account exercise intensity since exercise at either very high or very low
intensities may not elicit eCB activity. Through these kinds of studies, we can more effectively prescribe exercise in ways that benefit
psychological state, pain management, and overall cognitive health."


Personally speaking, I am not a avid runner. However, I do a lot of other physical exercise with my four legged baby girl. :)

Wishing you the best life has to offer!

Submitted by Karen London | January 28 2014 |

Dr. Raichlen,

Thank you so much for commenting on this article and for sharing more of your research with The Bark! Your study of intensity and its role in endogenous chemical activity is fascinating and certainly begs the question of the benefits of various types of exercise in dogs as well as in the humans in your study. I look forward to seeing even more of your studies, and I certainly hope that some of your future research plans include dogs. I wish you and your four-legged friend all the best joy in exercise and every other aspect of your lives together!


Submitted by Anonymous | February 5 2014 |

Dear Karen,

I'm not Dr. Raichlen.:) I am a science researcher who just now read for the first time your comment directed at me. I've been busy with work and spending time with my beloved 4 legged girlie.:)

Thank you.

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