Runner’s High

Do Dogs Get Runner’s High?


Thanks to Guest Author Kate Reynolds for this article

English: Running Dog on Sand by (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


There is a certain type of runner’s high that people can get after a jog or intense aerobic activity. Many people run to achieve this high and to help to manage some emotional issues such as depression. It has become common knowledge that exercising can help people that experience emotional lows and scientists are now starting to question whether dogs can experience the runner’s high as well.

It is all in the mind

This just may be the case. In people, endogenous neurotransmitters called endocannabinoids can help bring on this high by activating receptors in the brain both during and after the run. Since humans have many of the same morphological traits as our dogs, it may be the case that canine athletes can enjoy the same type of good feelings from a run as people do.

English: Dogs Running in the yard at Affectionate Pet Care (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Studies have shown that dogs and humans both share increased endocannabinoids following high-intensity exercise. It is important to note, however, that exercises like walking do not significantly increase the endocannabinoids in people or dogs. The study also showed that non-running animals like ferrets do not receive the same amount of neurotransmitters signaling as dogs and humans do. This may explain why mammals designed to run naturally want to engage in intense aerobic exercises while non-running species tend to avoid it.

Run, don’t just walk

One of Akna’s dogs running with a fellow canicrosser at Paws In The Park canicross event (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


If you’re in the habit of taking your dog for a walk you may want to consider increasing your speed to a jog. By doing so, you’re more likely to promote the release of endocannabinoids in his brain, and see his mood improve.  Or, you may want to find a good non-leash dog park in or around your home where your dog can speed up and stretch his legs on his own. Alternatively, if you have a large fenced backyard that gives him enough room for a good run, this may be all that is required. Keep in mind though that dogs tend not to exercise themselves, so you may need to encourage him to run by throwing a ball or a toy for him to chase.

Run the blues away

English: A mixed-breed dog. A real mongrel in …(Photo credit: Wikipedia)


If you have been noticing that your dog just is not looking as cheerful as usual, try taking him out for a good old-fashioned run. It may be all he needs to get increase his neurotransmitters and improve his disposition. While all this technical science research does sound impressive, you will have to put it to the test for yourself to see what type of improvement you see in your dog’s demeanor and what his mood is during and after a good run.

If you are not a runner or are just beginning, start slow. There are several ways you can encourage your dog to get a good run without pushing yourself too hard. In the beginning, try mixing a walk with a little running and wrap up the adventure with an exciting game of fetch. You can throw that stick or ball as many times, as you like or until you see your pooch wearing down. As time goes by, you can easily shift the activities to place more time on the running portion and less on the fetch.

Deutsch: Rennender Hund—(Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Kate Reynolds is a dog owner, freelance writer and consumer advocate. Kate writes informational pieces on products she uses and the impact products have on her wallet. Learn more about the Kate’s preferred dog fence options when you visit this site.

Please visit my web site at Pet Portraits by Deena and see the many portrait I have painted – dogs, cats, horses – what will be next?  10% of proceeds goes to support CorgiAid.


This article was originally posted and shared by the The Pet Blog.