A well-exercised dog is a well-behaved dog. And also a healthy one as a lack of regular activity may result in all manner of health and behavioral problems.
Big or small, young or old, your dogs need to be walked daily for several reasons. Walking is a behavior training opportunity, and it teaches your dog how to socialize with other dogs. On top of all this, a romp around the park lets her explore the tantalizing smells beyond her home and play with her favorite playmates.
Even if your dog is active inside the home, she still needs another outlet for pent-up energy. If she is confined to the house for too long, she gets bored, and boredom can lead to destructive behavior. A regular walk can make you and your dog happy, healthy and bonded.
How does walking keep me and my dog healthy?
Walking your dog has many excellent benefits apart from giving your dog the exercise and stimulation she needs, and giving you a relaxing exercise. It helps to improve cardiovascular fitness, lower blood pressure, stronger muscles, and bones, and decreased stress.
Obesity in the United States is reaching epidemic proportions in both people and pets. You are likely to become obese if do not burn off the calories you take in during the day. Regular exercise, like walking, is a good way to burn those excess calories and keep the pounds off both you and your dog.
Dogs have a lot of energy. If you do not give them something constructive to do they are likely to do something destructive like biting or eating clothes. Watching wildlife, exploring new paths, seeing other people with their pets, and so on, helps to improve mental well-being and increase social connections. Dog walking offers an unrealized, but a simple, community-wide solution to the challenge of human physical inactivity.
How much walking is enough?
The exact amount of exercise your dog needs vary based on her age, breed, size and overall health. However, it is suggested that owners should take their dogs for two 30 minutes walk every day- one in the morning and one in the evening. While breeds in the hunting, working, or herding groups (e.g., Labrador retrievers, hounds, collies, and shepherds) need the most exercise. If your dog is in one of these groups and is in good health, she should be getting at least 30 minutes of vigorous exercise along with her 1-2 hours of daily activity.
According to the World Health Organization, adequate exercise to promote healthy living among people includes:
- 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity daily for children 5 to 17 years old
- 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise five days per week for adults 18 to 65 years old, plus strengthening exercises two days per week
- 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise five days per week, with modifications as needed in seniors over 65 years old, plus flexibility and balance exercises
Walking your dog is a great start to fulfilling these recommendations. In fact, research from Michigan State University found that dog owner who took their pets for walks were 34 percent more likely to achieve at least 150 minutes of weekly exercise– than those who didn’t.
Tips and tricks for walking your dog
- Take your dog on a 30-minute walk daily.
- Keep your dog on a leash in public areas, unless it’s an “off-leash zone”. You can give your dog a lot of “lead” so they don’t feel restricted, but make sure you still maintain control in case of cars, other dogs, or external factors.
- Make sure your dog is wearing an ID tag. This will help identify your dog in case she gets away and can’t find her way home.
- Bring plenty of food and water in case your dog gets hungry or thirsty on the trip. You want to avoid dehydration and blood sugar crashes.
- Always take a plastic bag or scoop to pick up your dog’s poop. Dog poop that isn’t picked up causes major health concerns to humans and pets alike.
- Bring along high value treats to keep your dogs focus and only use them for very good behaviors.
- Walk your dog in safe areas. Remember that your dog isn’t wearing shoes like you are, so avoid trails with broken glass, sharp sticks, and other debris.
- Never pull on your dog’s leash or collar. Repetition of this could cause neck and cervical disk problems. If you have a “tough walker,” use a head halter or chest-clip harness to maintain safe control over your dog.
- Watch out when walking your dog in the chilly winter or hot summer.
- Ask your dog to sit before you let anyone pet her. This is another self-control exercise that teaches her to be calm around humans.
If you want to start walking your dog every day it comes down to getting motivated and making it a habit. Remember that walking doesn’t only keep you and your dog healthy, it helps to improve your dog’s overall well being.
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