Daily dog walking and regular wellness checks are the two best methods of keeping your pet healthy and fit. Dogs need exercise, and walking them often is good for both Fido and you.
January is National Walk Your Pet Month and National Train Your Dog Month, so we’ve taken a look at the importance and benefits of both.
Here are our top 4 reasons why you should walk your dog daily and have them trained in basic commands:
#1: Walking uses up energy and provides stimulation.
Most dogs up to the age of about 7 years have boundless energy—or so it seems—and they need an outlet for it. Going for a good walk every day (preferably fairly early, time-wise) will give Fido the physical and mental stimulation he or she needs. Getting a chance to sniff around and explore, picking up the scent of other animals and people, and becoming familiar with the area around your home provide the mental stimulation your dog needs.
Using up his or her energy will also prevent hyperactivity or boredom that leads to looking for something to do at home. (That ‘something to do’ can all-too-easily take the form of being destructive, chewing items in the home or chasing the cat.)
#2: Daily outings gives your dog attention.
The whole point of having a dog is to be company for you and others in the family. We have each other, but Fido has only you. If you’re too busy to spend time with your pet, he or she may become lonely and depressed, and/or start acting up to try and get attention. A daily walk creates quality time for both of you that strengthens your bond and makes your furbaby feel loved and satisfied, which enhances trust and looking forward to your next walk.
#3: Dog walking provides great training opportunities.
Training your dog is one of the most critical aspects of being a pet parent. You wouldn’t raise a child without teaching good manners, appropriate behavior and common sense, would you? In the same way, your dog needs to know what’s acceptable and what isn’t, and having a clear command of good canine citizenship skills will help keep him or her safe.
Come, sit, stay – these are all essential to your family’s safety and your own peace of mind. They can help you to:
- control your dog at home and away
- prevent him or her from knocking over—and possibly hurting—visitors and small children
- ensure your dog’s cooperation in a risky environment, such as in a public place or near busy traffic, and
- avoid skirmishes with other dogs at the dog park
While you’re out walking, you can teach commands such as “heel” and practice sit-and-stay technique in places like a nearby park. It’s also a great time to work on socialization skills, by allowing your dog to meet and interact with other friendly dogs and people in a relaxed environment.
A trained dog is a free dog, because s/he doesn’t need to be controlled physically every second of the time. Your dog is also a joy to have around, a well-behaved member of the family, and a companion who can go with you almost anywhere. If you aren’t an experienced dog trainer, speak to one of the veterinarians at our animal hospital in Apex for some tips on how to get started.
#4: Exercise keeps Fido fit and healthy.
Not only does regular dog walking keep both you and Fido fit, but daily exercise helps to keep the bowels working optimally, too. This is particularly important for elderly and more sedentary dogs, to prevent them from developing constipation problems. For pets suffering from excess weight or arthritis, a regular walking routine can help them to drop the pounds, tone up their muscles and keep the joints from getting too stiff and sore.
There’s no reason to skip daily walks just because it’s cold, either. Bundle up to keep warm, and if your dog is tiny, elderly or short-haired, provide a suitable jacket to keep him or her warm. Fit your pooch with booties to protect paws from the freezing, cold ground and prevent cuts and sores caused by ice and salt. Make sure you both drink plenty of water, even if you don’t feel thirsty, because it’s easy to become dehydrated in cold weather.
So get out there and have fun; teach your dog to enjoy his daily walks and you will, too! And you’ll both be healthier and fitter as you move in the new year. Also, if you don’t have time to do the walking yourself you might want to consider checking into dog walking rates, as hiring someone for the job is always better than avoiding it altogether.