You lift your head, open your eyes, turn off your alarm and slowly get out of bed. It’s the early hours of the morning and everything hurts. The first thing you do is walk to the bathroom while lifting your arms way up in the air to stretch. You stretch your back, your arms, your neck and your entire body and it feels oh so good. You slowly look over at your sleeping dog and watch him do the same exact routine. We aren’t as different as we think, are we? So do dogs stretch for all the same reasons we do or are there traits developed from their wolf ancestors?
Read also: “10 Dog Breeds That Need The Least Exercise“
“Dogs, as hunters and fighters, in an evolutionary sense never know what will happen when they get up to roam their territory,” Paul Rosenberg, a veterinary chiropractor at Pets in Motion Animal Chiropractor tells The Dodo. “Stretching helps prepare for any hunt for food or brawl for territory that comes along.”
“Evolution favors the prepared,” Rosenberg adds. “Don’t stretch and you risk successfully hunting and you starve. Get injured or killed in a fight and you are less likely to provide for your offspring or pack mates.”
Dogs stretch but have you noticed they also shake? “The reason why dogs shake when they get up is just like us,” Jackie Cameron, dog trainer and founder of No Kill Kern, tells The Dodo. “They want to stretch out and they want to get their muscles ready for activity.
“Dogs are active beings. When they get up, they want to start moving. It’s charging the system.”
So the bottom line is dogs shake and stretch to wake up in the morning. We prepare for the day with coffee, they prepare with a full body stretch and a nice long shake. So the next time you see your dog in an unusual position, remember you should probably get on the ground and stretch with him/her.
Why is stretching healthy for us? According to Lifehacker.com stretching is good for the body and the mind. Take notes from your dog.
For Your Body
- Helps improve flexibility (increases your range of motion)
- Assists in correct posture by lengthening tight muscles that pull areas of the body away from their intended position (because of so much time at our computers, many of us have tight chest muscles which pulls the shoulders and head forward, leaving us with a hunched shoulder look)
- Potential to decrease injury by preparing muscles for work before activity
- Increases blood and nutrient supply to muscles, thereby possibly reducing muscle soreness
For Your Mind
- Even a short amount of time (10-15 minutes) of stretching can calm the mind, provide a mental break, and give your body a chance to recharge
- Classes like yoga or pilates offer you a chance to spend an hour releasing tension physically and mentally
Remember, we can learn a lot from dogs and they can learn a lot from us. It’s a miraculous relationship that helps both human and dog live a better and healthier life all around. Enjoy your dog and don’t forget to stretch!