Let’s explore the benefits of walking your dog and how often we should consider exploring the great outdoors with our furry companions. Of course, your dog needs to go outside to pee and poop, but for most dogs a quick potty romp around the yard does not suffice as enough exercise to keep your dog happy. Routine physical activity is essential to keep dogs mentally and physically healthy. Taking your dog on daily walks is a great way to keep your dog in tip top shape. Walks are so much more than potty breaks!
According to PetMD, beyond general bathroom needs, most dogs can tolerate 20 to 30 minutes per day. This varies greatly on the physical health of your dog and the breed. Some dogs in great physical health can tolerate walks up to 2 hours or go hiking for hours at a time. But it may be difficult for overweight or obese dogs to walk 10 minutes without taking multiple breaks or panting heavily due to the exertion. Breed, eating habits, size, age, and health condition should all be considered before implementing a regular walking routine.
First and foremost, walking your dog should be fun! It’s a fundamental activity of dog companionship, and a great way to let your dog explore the world. Your backyard may be large and stimulating, but a regular change of scenery is a great way to keep your dog mentally healthy. According to VCA Animal Hospitals, the one-on-one time spent on walks can help deter attention-seeking behaviors like whining or barking. Some dogs become anxious or destructive without enough stimulation – taking your dog on regular walks is one of the best ways to maintain their emotional and mental health.
Beyond the emotional and mental health benefits, walking your dog keeps them physically healthy in several ways:
- Weight control. Walks are great remedies for calorie reduction. Regular walks help cut extra calories helping your dog to maintain an appropriate weight.
- Joint health. Have you ever had stiff legs after sitting for a long time? Your dog’s joints are similar; walking helps keep the joints in motion and allows dogs to stay in good shape.
- Digestive/urinary health. We all know what happens when dogs take walks: they stretch, pee, and poop around the neighborhood, which is good for their health. Remember to take a pet waste bag with you or you can call Scoopology Pet Waste Removal to do the doody work for you; however, your neighbor may have a few questions when we arrive to pick up your dog’s doo 😊
The Best Time to Walk Your Dog
Dogs thrive on routine, ideally keep your dog on a schedule.
According to veterinarian Michael W. Fox, writing in the Washington Post, an ideal dog walking schedule is:
- A short morning walk before breakfast
- Another short walk or potty break midday
- A longer walk or run before dinner
- Another walk or potty break right before bed
That’s a lot of walking. Most families can’t follow this exact schedule; one long walk and a few short walks or potty breaks is about right for most dogs. On average, if you and your dog put in 3.5 to 5 hours of walking per week that will suffice for most breeds. Many people break that time up into two or three walks per day. But the specific quantity and duration of walks will most likely vary depending on your life schedule. A regular routine is ideal, but life is what it is and for most of us it is far from routine.
Avoid These Common Mistakes
Walking your dog may seem easy; however, many of us can easily fall into a few bad habits. To make your dog walking experience as enjoyable as possible avoid the following leash mistakes:
- Pulling – Dogs pull because it works – they pull, we follow — and before you know, it you’ve got a certified sled dog on your hands. Walking a “puller” can be an uncomfortable chore and, if you have a big dog that pulls, you might be less inclined to walk your dog because it’s painful. The secret to curbing a dedicated puller is to teach your dog that pulling never works, meaning, when he pulls the walk comes to a complete stop.
- Zoning Out – When you’re not mindful of what’s going on with your dog during a walk, you might miss potential hazards on the horizon. Experiencing the great outdoors should be a shared adventure in which the two of you encounter the world as a team. Staying engaged with your dog keeps him safe and it helps to grow the bond between you.
- Being Too Strict – Leash walks are recreational times for your dog – a chance to catch up on neighborhood goings-on by sniffing and marking. Requiring that your dog maintain a strict heel on a short leash at your side with no opportunity to sniff and explore the environment turns a pleasant stroll into an unnecessary battle. Your dog should be able to move freely during walks, not only to find the perfect place to leave his mark, but also to burn off some brain-energy as he discovers what’s happening in his neighborhood. Remember, walks should be fun!
Use the Right Equipment
Leash walking tools are simple in theory – all you need is a leash and a collar, right? Well, the options are limitless and can be confusing. Choosing the right equipment is essential to enjoying your dog walking experience.
The two guiding factors when choosing leash walking equipment should be comfort (both human and canine) as well as safety. Choosing a leash that’s too short makes it difficult for your dog to walk without having tension on the leash, which might accidentally encourage pulling, and choosing one that’s too long makes it tough for you to manage it. While flexible leashes seem like an excellent alternative between too long and too short, they’re actually an unsafe option. The thin cord is more likely to snap, it can cause rope burns and lacerations, the locking mechanism can malfunction, and the length of the leash permits your dog to encounter whatever is on the street long before you get there.
According to bechewy, the safest leash walking options are a fixed-length leash about six feet long, paired with a flat dog collar (no prong or choke collars) with a strong claps or a buckle.
That about wraps it up. The benefits of dog walking are many. If you and your favorite furry companion can get on a routine that results in 20 to 30 minutes of walking per day, you should be well on your way to a healthy and happy relationship. Remember to avoid a few common mistakes and use the right equipment. And, of course, most importantly, have fun!