- Walking with your dog can improve your health and help you live longer together.
- Going for a walk helps you spend time with your dog.
- Dog walking is a great way to get in shape and explore the world.
- Taking your dog for walks is a good way to prevent destructive behavior.
- A walking routine can help prevent chronic diseases like arthritis and diabetes.
There’s no better time to start walking your dog than right now. The benefits of walking the dog have been well-established for both humans and pets – weight loss, joint health, endorphins – yet taking the first step towards establishing a daily routine can still seem daunting.
If you won’t do it for yourself, do it for your dog! Adding daily exercise to any pet’s routine will boost mood and shed pounds that can lead to dangerous chronic diseases like arthritis and diabetes. Read why your dog is begging you for a walk.
1. “I want to live longer!”
It’s a fact – fat dogs don’t live as long as pets who maintain a healthy weight. The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention found that 52.7 percent of all U.S. dogs are overweight or obese. With numbers like that, it’s no wonder the trend has been labelled the “pet obesity epidemic.”
A 2013 study by the Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition found that overweight dogs live up to 10 months fewer than their healthy counterparts. Some dog breeds are more likely to pack on the pounds, including Dachshunds, Beagles, Labs, Golden Retrievers, and Bernese Mountain Dogs. Obesity is a risk factor for many other chronic diseases like diabetes, cancer, hip dysplasia, pancreatitis, and arthritis – all of which can decrease a dog’s lifespan.
2. “I want to spend time with you.”
Being outside is only half the fun: what your dog really enjoys about a walk is spending time with you! Most pet parents are at work or out of the house roughly one-third of the day, leaving Fido along with his thoughts for hours. Show your dog he matters by making his daily walk a priority. Incorporating it into your routine gives both you and your dog something to look forward to, even on busy days.
A lonely or bored dog can become depressed and destructive, full of energy with no release. If you have a one-pet household, it’s especially important to spend time with your dog – you’re his only friend! Interactive dogs toys, an enclosed backyard, and other pets can help entertain your dog when you’re at work, but the star of the show is you.
3. “I want to explore the world around me.”
Dogs are naturally curious, requiring mental stimulation to avoid boredom and stay happy. A walk around the block is a new experience every time in the eyes of a dog. Try to avoid rushing walks; let your pup sniff around and explore her favorite scents and spots. Make walking the dog a relaxing, leisurely affair – unless, of course, she’s your new jogging partner.
Add new routes to your walk, if possible, driving to nearby parks or trails. Try hiking on weekends, or find a local dog-friendly beach to frequent. Always pick up after your pet and obey local leash laws.
4. “I want to get in shape!”
Walking is the easiest form of exercise – nothing needed but your own two (or four) feet! Whether it’s on veterinarian’s orders or you’ve noticed Spike’s growing gut, start walking the dog daily to get your pup – and you – in shape. Your dog may be trying to tell you something: Is he having difficulty going up stairs or running like he used to?
Pets may still show signs of interest in exercise but don’t have the fitness level to keep up like they used to. Pay attention to your pet’s physical fitness throughout the years; any sudden changes can be an indicator of injury or illness, but keep in mind that old age will naturally slow down dogs.
5. “I won’t destroy the house while you’re gone…”
When a dog is destroying the house, there are usually one or more emotions at play: boredom, anxiety and overexcitement. Depending on your dog’s personality, destructive behaviors can have a variety of causes. High-energy dog breeds naturally require more exercise; when they don’t get it, the extra energy manifests as chewing, digging, barking, clawing and even urinating.
Crate training your dog is one option, but dogs with separation anxiety may only become more agitated. Walking the dog for five to ten minutes not long before you leave the house can burn off some of his energy. Leave interactive toys or chew toys around the house for your dog to explore, and a big, comfy dog bed for sleeping off all that exercise.
6. “I want you to live longer.”
A 2013 study found that every one minute of exercise adds seven minutes to a person’s lifespan. Walking the dog is the perfect moderately-intense activity for pet parents of all age, and what better motivator than your pup’s pleading face?
On a more serious note, the current crisis of homeless pets is due in part to pet parents surrendering animals. Those with poor health often don’t have the time or financial resources to care for pets in the face of medical bills or prolonged illness. Keep yourself healthy and happy for the sake of everyone in your family, including pets.