It's common sense that walks are beneficial for your dogs (and cats sometimes too)! But, in case you need a little more convincing to get yourself off of the couch a little more often to get your dog his or her steps in, here are a few reasons why you should!
Walking is Great Exercise
In 2017, the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention estimated that 56% of dogs in the United States were overweight or obese. Unfortunately, all that extra weight often leads to health problems including heart disease, kidney problems, GI tract conditions, and joint disorders like arthritis.
Daily walks can go a long way toward managing your dog’s weight, while also aiding digestion, preventing constipation, reducing blood pressure, building strong muscles, and preventing joint stiffness and soreness.
Plus, walking helps your dog burn off excess energy that might otherwise be used for destructive chewing, hyperactive behavior, or chasing your cat around the house.
So how much exercise should your dog be getting every day?
According to PetMD, “Though exercise needs are based on a dog’s age, breed, size, and overall health, your dog should spend between 30 minutes to two hours on an activity every day. Breeds in the hunting, working, or herding groups (e.g., Labrador retrievers, hounds, collies and shepherds) will need the most exercise.”
The best advice is to pay attention to your dog’s signals. If your dog starts to slow down or seems tired or uncomfortable, it’s probably time to head home. Dogs with health conditions or older dogs may need less exercise.
If you aren’t sure about the right amount of exercise for your dog, consult your primary care veterinarian.
56% of dogs are overweight or obese! Walking your dog is a great way to help prevent obesity!
Walking Provides Mental Stimulation
Not only is walking great physical exercise for your dog, but it also provides much-needed mental stimulation. Believe it or not, all that sniffing and exploring really does have a purpose.
Getting outside gives your dog the opportunity to examine the environment and become acquainted with new sights and smells, your dog’s equivalent of checking their social media feeds. Plus, walking satisfies your dog’s need to roam and hunt.
Having a regular routine, especially early in the day, engages the senses, and may even help your dog sleep better during the night.
For even more benefits, try changing things up every once in a while to keep things interesting for both of you. Take a different route, travel to a new dog park, or walk to a friend’s house (preferably one who has a dog).
Adding socialization to the mix can also be helpful. Try walking a neighbor’s dog along with your own or make plans to walk with another canine owner for a nice change of pace.
Daily Walks Provide Training Opportunities
Daily walks are the perfect opportunity to practice basic commands such as come, sit, stay, and heel. This is especially helpful for younger dogs.
Mastering these basic commands is essential to keeping your dog safe, particularly on busy roads, or when walking in an unknown area. Plus, dogs that are properly trained make better companions, enabling you to take them just about anywhere.
Walking Your Dog is a Great Bonding Exercise
Due to our busy lives, our dogs often spend more time on their own than they should. But walking together can be a great time to strengthen your bond with your dog and provide the undivided attention they crave.
To make the most of your time on walks, make sure you are fully present. Don’t talk on your phone or check your email. Instead, focus on being together and take the opportunity to praise your dog for good behavior.
Now that you know how beneficial daily walks can be for your furry friends, we hope to see you and your pal strolling around the neighborhood! As always if you have questions about your pet’s health or exercise needs, please feel free to contact us here at CVCA, the leader in cardiac care for pets.