Lifes Abundance content relating to 'play'

What Does It Mean When Your Dog Bows to You?

Dog Playing

Pet parents often ask me, “Why does my dog bow?” The answer is more complicated than you might think, as it often is with our wonderfully complex canine companions. Dog bows serve as building blocks of dog communication and also have a physiological function in the stretching referred to as pandiculation. The reason behind each bow depends on when the dog engages in the behavior. Let’s talk about this unique form of stretching first.

Pandiculation is a brain-reflex-action pattern in which many animals engage. The word originates from the Latin ‘pandere’, which means "to spread out" or "stretch oneself". Next time your dog gets up from rest, watch what he does. Most often, he’ll put his front paws out and lengthen his back as he relaxes his belly. Then he may pandiculate in reverse, by contracting the anterior muscles into a flexed posture. This “wakes up” the muscular system, particularly the rear extensor muscles responsible for running. In a very real sense, this motion activates the connection between the brain and the muscles.

Stretching and yawning upon awakening is one healthy habit that we could relearn from our companion animals. As children, we instinctively do this, but many of us lose the habit.

Remember when you used to stretch? You'd wake up, gently tighten your arms and legs, feel a yawn coming on. Then, you’d reach your arms above your head, then reach down to one leg and then the other. You would first contract your muscles, then lengthen them, followed by complete relaxation. Try it some morning … you might be surprised at how good it’ll make you feel!

Dog bowing is most commonly expressed with what we refer to as the ‘play bow’. This common posture serves as a cornerstone of dog communication. Most often, it functions as an expression of ‘let's play!” Or, it can signal an apologetic tone, such as, "Oops, I didn't mean to bite so hard. I wasn't trying to hurt you. Let's keep playing!”

With a play bow, social hierarchy is not a factor. Dominant dogs can offer play bows to lower-ranked dogs and vice versa. When two dogs meet for the first time, they may initiate interaction with play bows as a way of making friends. Sometimes as part of the mating ritual, canines will initially assume the play-bow position to communicate amorous intent. Even if you don’t know exactly what your dog is attempting to communicate, the context of the behavior can help clue you in.

Want to try something fun? Try doing your own version of the play bow to your dog, and watch your pup go from serious to goofball in a heartbeat. Use a silly voice, plop down and invite your dog to play - you will likely be delighted at your dog’s response!

If dogs are not properly socialized, they may not know how to respond to another dog’s play-bow invitation. Rather than responding in-kind, they may feel threatened and growl fearfully. If you witness any fearful or aggressive reactions, I recommend working with a professional dog trainer.

If your dog invites you to play with a bow, accept the invitation! Chances are that you’ll boost her well-being, as well as yours, by simply engaging in purposeful play for only five minutes. It’s a great way to take a break from the day and begin a game of tug of war, tag or fetch.

Thank you for all you do to make the world a better place for companion animals.

Dr Jane Bicks  Dr. Jane Bicks

3 Easy Fitness Tips

summer-freedom

It’s right about that time of the year, when you can’t go on Facebook or Instagram without being inundated with advice on how to get ‘bikini body ready’ or ‘fit for the summer’. Upping your fitness and improving your nutrition are absolutely goals to strive for. However, for some people, there is a fair amount of stress that comes along with this ... especially at this time of year. You might get swayed into thinking that a one-week hardcore cleanse is finally the magic bullet to getting into the jeans you’ve always dreamed of, or think that going from 0 to 100 with your workout schedule will be the answer to your physique prayers. And, year after year, you’re reminded that it’s not quite so simple. However, there are a few strategies you can use to improve your fitness routine and eating habits so that they will transform into lifelong positive lifestyle changes.

Here are three ways to improve your fitness, overall health and your fun this summer.

1. Play Like a Kid. I’m not talking about breaking out the legos and action figures, but getting outside and mixing it up! Getting away from your regular 20-minute walk on the treadmill will make exercise accessible and fun. Join your kids in a volleyball game in the backyard. Add a jump rope progression into your weight routine. Turn on music the next time you’re doing a deep clean of the house and work up a sweat. Take the leap and join the recreational basketball team you meant to sign up for last summer. When you get creative in your thinking, you can find a good workout almost anywhere.

greek-recipes

2. Eat Like a Greek. The summer is the perfect time to improve your diet, as loads of fruits and veggies are coming into their peak season. It’s also the perfect time to adopt a mostly Mediterranean Diet, which is inspired by traditional Greek and Italian diets. It emphasizes plant-based foods like fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, plenty of extra-virgin olive oil and fresh fish. True followers focus on eating seasonally although depending on where you live, the seasonal foods available may not exactly be those that are available near the Mediterranean. How you eat also matters: preferably with friends and family while enjoying red wine and each other’s company. So when you’re making your meals, think tons of fresh veggies, some fruit, whole grains like brown rice, beans and nuts. Fish and chicken are key, especially flavored with fresh herbs and spices. Dairy is included occasionally - in the form of fresh cheeses and yogurt - as are eggs. While pasta is a staple, it’s usually consumed in small portions at the start of a meal and freshly prepared. Picture a vibrant Greek salad with greens, juicy tomatoes, cucumbers and feta tossed in EVOO and herbs, then topped with a piece of grilled chicken or fish. Yummers!

3. Drink Like a Fish. I mean water in this case, although throwing a mocktail or healthy cocktail into the mix wouldn’t hurt, either. If plain water becomes too yawn-worthy to you, mix it up by adding a scoop of Minerals & Antioxidants to up the flavor, nutritional profile, and overall benefit. Drinking enough water throughout the day can help with weight loss, improved moods, more energy and clearer skin. Liquids may also help move food through your digestive tract smoothly, so your water intake could actually prevent bloating and constipation. Score! With all that it has going for it, it definitely makes sense to keep up with the sipping before, during and between meals. 

Open yourself up to fun and start living your best life!

Keri Keri Glassman, MS.RD.CDN

For more info:

http://nutritiouslife.com/olive-oil-vs-coconut-oil-healthier
http://nutritiouslife.com/spices-health-benefits
https://nutritiouslife.com/recipes/greek-salad
https://nutritiouslife.com/drink-up/low-sugar-cocktails-delicious
http://nutritiouslife.com/do-i-really-need-to-be-drinking-water-to-lose-weight
http://nutritiouslife.com/8-food-tips-for-glowing-skin

Puppy It’s Cold Outside

Winter is coming. For many pet households, that means dogs – and people – spending more time indoors, away from the bitter cold. Even though some will be braving the ice and snow for quick walks, most of us will be staying in the warm, climate-controlled confines of home. Since your canine probably doesn’t enjoy Netflix bingeing nearly as much as you, we’re exploring simple ways to help fight the doggie doldrums.

This month, Dr. Sarah reveals just how easy it is to keep your pup entertained. And we bet that you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how much you can do inexpensively! Watch as Dr. Sarah demonstrates with her canine companion eight simple activities for inside playtime. Fend off the wintertime blues with fun for everyone!

Be sure to share this video with other pet parents. And if you have any ideas for keeping canine boredom at bay, feel free to share them with the Life’s Abundance community in the comments section below.

Kitty Play Time

In last month's episode of Pet Talk, Dr. Sarah provided us with fun and simple ways to tap into a cat's innate problem solving skills while helping avoid the behavioral and physical consequences of sedentary living. If you missed this video on making safe but fun DIY toys for cats, be sure to watch that next.

This month, Sarah’s back with more in-depth info on why it’s important for your cat to have regular play times. It’s partly due to their unique evolution, but also because their minds require stimulation for a long and healthy life.

Be sure to share this video with friends and family, especially if they are cat lovers. And, please leave your comments if this Pet Talk episode is helpful to you.

Feline Food Fun

Who among us hasn't started munching on a bag of chips to suddenly and unexpectedly find the bag empty? Just like us guilty humans, cats will often overeat due to boredom or stress. In this month's episode of Pet Talk, Dr. Sarah provides fun and simple ways to tap into your cat's innate problem solving skills while helping avoid the behavioral and physical consequences of sedentary living.

These DIY toys will both keep kitty's body busy and let her use her predatory instincts to exercise her brain. So, get ready to dig into your recycling bin and replace some of those feline snack habits with fun and games!

Be sure to share this video with friends and family, especially if they are cat lovers. And, please leave your comments if this Pet Talk episode is helpful to you.