January is National Dog Walking Month
Walking your dog combines things that make you and your dog very happy: Exercise, getting outside and just spending time together. We love walking with our dogs and they love walking with us.
Although it varies by dog, depending on their breed, age and health, every dog owner has a responsibility to make sure that their dog gets at least one walk every day.
Walking your dog is about much more than just “potty breaks.” It provides mental stimulation, physical exercise, chances for socialization, and opportunities for behavioral training.
Walking is essential for your dog’s long term health and fitness – keeping the muscles strong and supple and ensuring that they don’t get overweight. With one third of our pets estimated to be overweight it is an essential part of being a responsible dog owner.
- Walking Provides Exercise and Mental Stimulation
Your dog wants to explore the world. If they are confined to the house for too long, your dog will get bored, and boredom can lead to destructive behavior.You need to take them out to explore the sights, smells, and sounds of the world. Try varying the places you take your dog much as possible. You’ve probably noticed how excited your dog gets when he or she is walking, so let them enjoy every opportunity to discover!
- Walking is Good for Your Dog’s Health
A sedentary dog can quickly become an overweight one, and that brings potential health problems with it. Even if your dog is active inside the home, they still need other ways to relieve pent-up energy.
- Walking Helps with Your Dog’s Socialization
While you are out walking you and your dog are likely going to meet other dogs. This is a great opportunity to help your dog learn acceptable ways of socially interacting with new animals.
It can also help build confidence so your dog will be less afraid to make friends. If your dog does show fear, taking them to a training class is a great way of removing that anxiety in a more controlled environment. Walking your dog and exposing him or her to different dogs, people, and situations is a win for everyone.
- Walking Your Dog is a Training Opportunity
When walking your dog, consider it a training opportunity. Dogs aren’t born knowing how to walk on a leash, so you’ll have to teach your dog how to follow your lead.
On walks, you can reinforce commands like, “sit,” “stay,” and “heel,” -take treats along to use during the process. If you need help training classes can assist both of you walk well together.
Just Walking Your Dog May Not be Enough
If your dog has a yard to play in, walking isn’t the only form of exercise available. Dogs can’t entertain themselves so if you want to tire your pet out, play catch or fetch!
If you’re at work all day, consider taking your dog to doggie daycare, hiring a dog walker or asking a friend to take your dog out during those hours. Your pet will enjoy the company, and you’ll come home to a happier dog waiting to greet you.
Tips for a Safe and Enjoyable Walk:
- Always walk your dog on a leash. A flat leash is recommended for your dog’s safety.
- Always bring poo bags and pick up after your dog.
- Wear brightly coloured or reflective clothing, leashes and collars particularly if you walk a night.
- Stay in well-lit areas
- Ensure you dog has access to plenty of fresh clean water during and after your walk.
- In cold weather wipe down your dog and if you’ve walked in snow or around de-icers wash your dog’s feet to avoid sores.
In hot weather be aware of the heat that builds on asphalt, paw pads can burn easily. If it is too cold or hot for you then it is too cold or hot for your dog!