Saturday, March 24, 2012

Pet your dog thin?

I was reading this book about addictions, and I learned some things. As you may or may not know, the brain, human or otherwise, secretes a variety of hormones to make us feel good or bad. I call the good ones "brain rewards". I knew this already. I didn't know that one of the brain rewards is oxytocin. One thing it does is induce labour, but also, it's a brain reward related to attachment activities, and an analgesic. And the important thing here is, attachment.

So that is to say, oxytocin is a brain reward that you get from interacting with other creatures.

What does that have to do with addictions? Addictions are a way to give ourselves brain rewards when we're not getting them through normal processes. Which is why people who say they eat to make themselves feel better aren't actually lying; they're just not creative about giving themselves brain rewards. So they eat, and get a brain reward related to eating. But that doesn't exactly replace the brain reward they're missing, so they keep eating.

Likewise with dogs.

Do I have a point? I do. Tinky-Winky and I are dog-sitting Carter again. Carter... Oh wait, I forgot to post my other post, so you don't know the back story. Anyway, Carter overeats. I explained that in the post I forgot to post. When he wants a brain reward, he eats. When he has no food, he asks his person for food, and she gives it to him.

Not me. When Carter whines, I pet him. Or I brush him. He loves being brushed. When I stop brushing him, he goes to sleep. Without having eaten.


My theory is, Carter cries because he needs a brain reward, not a food reward. If I pet him or brush him, he gets a brain reward, therefore he doesn't eat. Therefore he doesn't get fat.

On the other hand, it's also possible that he doesn't eat when I dogsit him because he misses his own humans. But I like my theory.

Doesn't matter anyway. Petting your dog lowers blood pressure for both you and the dog, and fills some time that you both would normally spend stuffing your faces.

You know what else? If you walk your dog, he gets exercise, therefore he's less stressed and difficult - and also less fat. Also you are less stressed and difficult, and also less fat.

Funny how doing the right thing for your dog also happens to be the right thing for you. Oh wait... Yes, that's easily explained by 12,000 years of living in packs together. Or maybe we formed packs together because we need the same things. Either way, spend more time petting, brushing and walking your dog. It's good for both of you. And besides, why would you get a dog if you're not gonna pet, brush and walk him?

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