We are all aware that exercise is good for us, but did you know that it is also very important for the health of our dogs? Sadly, research has shown that as many as 40% of dog owners do not regularly exercise their dogs, and walk small or old dogs even less. Regardless of their size or age, all dogs should be walked and they love it! At the very least, it is usually necessary to take them for a quick walk for toilet time, so why not make the most out of it?
It’s amazing how persistent your dog can be as a training partner…they don’t care about the weather, or your hassles at work, so there will be no slacking off! Dogs are great at motivating many of us to exercise when we might otherwise choose to skip the workout and sit in front of the TV.
It’s great for both of you!
Dog owners enjoy many health benefits by walking their dog a few times a week. This includes improved overall cardiovascular fitness, lowered blood pressure, improved muscle tone, while reducing the risk of diabetes, obesity, arthritis and premature death.
The advantage of walking your dog, is that he or she reaps the health rewards as well. It can help reduce obesity and related illnesses (like osteoarthritis, cardiovascular disease, liver disease and insulin resistance) in your pet, and helps in relieving stomach troubles and constipation.
Aside from the numerous physical health benefits that you and your four-legged friend will enjoy from a routine of regular exercise together, there is proof that it will boost your happiness and decrease your stress. Studies reveal that something as simple as walking your dog can boost overall emotional wellness.
Exercising your dog can be calming on them and reduce destructive behaviours that are caused by their pent up energy.
Signs that your dog might need to go for more regular walks include:
- Chewing furniture
- Digging or scratching inside
- Barking and whining
- Boisterous night-time activity
Dog Walking Tips
Most dogs need to be walked at least once each day. Your pet’s fitness and age should be your guide for how long, and how difficult your walk should be.
- Aim to walk for 30 minute walks (five times per week is ideal)
- Supervise your dog around children and other dogs
- Carry plastic bags to clean up after your dog
- Ensure your dog is on lead
- Bring fresh water for you and your dog to drink, and avoid walking during periods of extreme heat
- Do not ignore your dog’s limitations, and consult your vet if you are concerned
Dog walking and your happiness
In recent years, dog experts have coined the term “the Lassie effect” to describe the wide-ranging health benefits of walking a dog. The moniker references the famous television collie, who brought joy, and plenty of adventure, to the characters in the show. While you might not be up for Lassie’s regular high-jinx and intrepid stunts, the Lassie effect refers to behavioural research on dog-human relationships, and has shown that owners can gain a sense of encouragement and motivation simply by walking his or her pet.
A walk is bound to make your dog very happy. They love sniffing out new smells and being out in the world with their human friend.
Try these ideas to get the most out of your walks:
- Change your walking routine (route or time of day) to help combat stress
- Leave your phone at home or switch it off in your pocket
- Explore new dog parks or areas
- Encourage a friend or family member to join you
Exercising together builds a bond between you and your pet which also improves mental health.
Dog walking and the community
Australian studies have also shown that dog walking benefits the whole community, and it stands to reason. You are more likely to get to know your neighbours if you are out and about with your pet. Animals can be a conversational ice-breaker, and you can enjoy conversation and friendships with people that begin with this shared interest. By being more aware of your neighbourhood, you are contributing to the safety of everyone who lives there.
Be a responsible dog owner by keeping in mind that:
- You are legally responsible for any harm or damage to people, property or wildlife caused by your dog
- Be aware of the rules regarding walking dogs in state parks, forests and beaches that you visit
- It’s illegal to walk your dog in most national parks
- You should keep your dog on its leash in public unless in an off-leash zone (check with your local council about where and at what times this is allowed.)
So, time to grab the leash, and whistle to your furry mate! Head out for a walk with your dog today—and every day—to share the many benefits of a positive and healthy life.