Our annual virtual #PinkPawLove Walk/Run is here, and we couldn’t be more excited. Walking the dog can seem like more trouble than it’s worth, especially when the dog is not trained. But the benefits far outweigh the small inconveniences of the task. In this article, we will explore the proven health benefits of putting your dog (and yourself) on a regular walking schedule. We’ve also added some dog-walking tips to help you get started.
1. Walking the dog improves digestion and bladder health.
VCA Hospitals found that walking the dog regularly helps to build a routine that allows for better digestion. The exercise helps to prevent constipation, which is just as unpleasant in dogs as it is in humans. By keeping your dog on a regular walking schedule, you also help to build a bathroom routine, allowing your dog to ‘go’ at set times of the day. Emptying the bladder when necessary prevent urinary tract infections. Give your dog a healthy gut and bladder by walking for a few minutes every day.
2. Physical exercise dissipates excess energy in dogs.
Dogs, like little toddlers, are prone to bouts of excess energy that need to be spent somehow. When your dog is not given proper exercise, this pent-up energy will become destructive as your dog experiences boredom. Your furniture may fall victim to biting and scratching as your dog tries to release all that energy. Walking is a healthier and more constructive outlet for this kind of energy.
3. Dog walking improves mobility in older dogs.
Loss of mobility is a serious condition for canines. Symptoms may include constant bruising, loss of appetite, and skin lesions caused by incorrect movement. If you start to notice any of these symptoms, you may need to pay the vet a visit. Depending on your dog’s condition, the vet may include regular walks as part of your treatment plan. Walks help to keep the joints functioning properly.
4. Walking stimulates your dog both physically and mentally.
Some pet owners believe that a good romp in the backyard yields the same benefits of dog walking for half the effort. Surveys prove otherwise. Researchers have found that dogs get their mental stimulation from exploring new places. Keeping them confined in the same space limits their ability to gain a comprehensive understanding of their surroundings. So, while the backyard is a good start, it is nowhere near enough to keep your dog mentally stimulated. Going on walks for a few minutes a day allows your canine to develop a sharper sense of smell and to learn new and interesting things about their environment.
5. Dogs that walk regularly are generally more emotionally stable.
One of the reasons why dogs make such lovely pets is their emotional capacity. Dogs get lonely and stressed too. You may notice that your dog exhibits annoying behavior like constant barking, pawing, and whining whenever you’re around. Such behavior is usually a desperate call for attention. Sadly, this can lead to your dog becoming anti-social and stressed. Daily walks help to reverse this behavior. As your dog is exposed to other dogs and other people, it will start to develop healthier habits that will make it a pleasant pet when you’re back home.
6. Walking helps dogs with weight loss.
About 30% of dogs in America suffer from obesity. That percentage more than doubles for humans in America. Obesity in both dogs and humans causes more health complications and compromises the body’s ability to fight other diseases. Doctors recommend that humans walk for at least half an hour each day as part of their daily exercise routine. Taking your dog on these walks with you allows you both to keep your weight in check (or to lose weight if that’s the goal).
Make your dog your exercise buddy and begin your health journey today. Now that you know the benefits of creating and staying consistent with a walking routine for both you and your dog, here are some tips to help you get started.
Check the weather!
This easy-to-ignore step can make or break your dog-walking experience for both you and your dog. Most dogs respond poorly to extreme weather conditions, so you want to make sure you’re prepared. If your area has very cold winters, a dog coat can help to keep your furry friend warm as they exercise. In hot summers, the concrete can get too hot for sensitive paws. Do some research on how your breed responds to different weather conditions and prepare accordingly.
Get all the dog-walking supplies ready.
Nothing dampens the walking mood like realizing you’ve left an essential item back home. This spoils the rest of the walk as the owner feels terrible and the dog, sensing this change in temperament, becomes anxious. Such mishaps can be avoided with a little preparation. Make sure you have all your dog-walking essentials stored in one place. These include:
- dog waste bags
- a bottle of water
- pop-up doggie bowl
- a toy (frisbee, ball, etc) if you stop at the park.
- a phone for emergencies (and for capturing that perfect #PinkPawLove Facebook picture:))
Stick to a walking routine.
Dogs love certainty. They behave better when they know what to expect. Walking at a specific time each week establishes a routine for bladder relief, preventing urinary tract infections and constipation. Regular walks also promote digestion and have been shown to decrease stress in dogs prone to anxiety. Be sure to walk the same route until your dog is comfortable before exploring new areas.
Take your (dog’s) time.
Dogs need mental stimulation too. When you rush through a walk, chances are you are only focusing on the physical aspects of dog walking. Yes, the physical exertion is great; however, a healthy dog is also one that is regularly and sufficiently stimulated mentally. Dogs gather information by sniffing their surroundings, so allow them time to sniff around. That said, some dogs will take too much time sniffing absolutely everything. In such cases, you’ll need to train your dog to respond to certain cues so you keep sniff breaks in check. Try using “let’s sniff” and loosening your dog’s leash to signal that it’s time to explore. When it’s time to go, you could call out “let’s walk”.
That’s it! May these tips come in handy as you get ready for the #PinkPawLove walk this year. Be sure to invite some friends so we can all share in the fun and help fight canine cancer together.