Wake Up! Your Morning Ritual Needs to Include Your Fur Kid

Mary Simpson
by Mary Simpson
Photo Credit: Petrovichea Mariia / Shutterstock.com

Let’s be honest. When that morning alarm sounds the first thing we do is reach for our device of choice to see which celebrity rules the headlines, what team made the playoffs, or what our friends have planned for the weekend. Right?

Well, according to former lawyer turned animal communicator and TikTok contributor Nikki Vasconez, those crack-of-dawn moments should really be shared with your furry little sidekick rather than an electronic device. And it’s a sentiment echoed by the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen Director, Doctor Mary Burch. She suggests spending an extra five minutes in bed (or your location of choice if your pet doesn’t snuggle in with you at night) for a little cuddle to start the day. For those of us with multiple pets, we’re not talking about group hugs here. She means quality one-on-one time with each of our critters to help them feel connected, loved, and appreciated by that VIP in their lives - you.

Now, before you roll your eyes and declare your pet already feels those loving vibes each time you feed him, walk him, toss him a treat… there’s actually a lot more to this approach. Not only does taking these few minutes set your own day off in a positive trajectory but according to the American Psychological Association, research shows that “Overall, interacting with one’s own pet dog reduced owners’ distress. Such interactions, which occur commonly in daily life, may have the potential to alleviate distress on a large scale. Precisely how this works and for whom it is especially well suited remain intriguing open questions.”

So, this a.m.-in-the-moment connection is not just beneficial to our pet’s emotional health but to ours as well. And while most studies refer specifically to dogs, other studies show that cats and even rabbits or other small pets can have a similar stress-relieving benefit. And it’s as easy as wishing your best buddy a simple good morning with a little hug or head scratch.

For me, I have a dog dealing with PTSD who needs to be lifted off my bed each morning. We go down the stairs and stop at a picture of my grandmother to wish her a good morning, open the front door to wish our front yard a good morning, then a little cuddle and I let her down at the back door to run out for her morning constitutional. It’s a small ritual that helps build her connection with me and prevents her from disengaging with the world.

How big a conversation is this for pet owners? Vasconez recently shared this philosophy on her TikTok account with a video that immediately went viral amassing more than 814,000 views and 56,000 likes. So, it seems pillow talk will soon trump last night’s celebrity gossip.

Mary Simpson
Mary Simpson

Sharing space with three seriously judgy Schnoodles and a feline who prefers to be left alone. #LivingMyBestLife

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