According to a 2018 study by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP), 55.8% of dogs are classified as overweight or obese. Even an extra 5 pounds would mean an increased risk of associated disease.
Weight and Body Condition - Obesity is a huge problem. Not only in humans but in dogs as well. Fortunately, this is something that we can get a better handle on. Regular exercise can help get rid of excess calories and keep the extra pounds off.
Joint Health - When you or your dog are immobile or sedentary for too long, the joints can get stiff. Moving around and walking will help improve their function.
Digestive and Urinary Health - Did you know if your dog is on a “regular schedule”, they are happier? Just like humans, regular walking can help regulate their digestive tract and prevent constipation. Also, if you leave the urine to sit on top of your bladder too long, it may lead to a urinary tract infection. Yes, dogs can get a urinary tract infection as well.
Mental Health - While there are physical health benefits for dog walking, their mental health is just as important. Imagine this… when your dog is sitting at home bored, they may do something destructive like chew on your couch. Think about the times when you are sitting home bored.
By walking your dog, both of you can explore new environments, see other people with their pets, and release any excess energy that one cannot get from running around in the yard. A great way to stimulate the mind and ultimately sleep better.
Emotional Bond - You are your dog’s entire world and craves your attention. Spending one on one time with your dog and providing him with your undivided attention will deepen your connection. Not only that, but it will also deter him from these behaviors such as whining, excessive barking, or getting into trouble.
How much time is needed to walk your dog - There is no hard-fast rule on how much time is needed. This is all dependent on you and your dog. You know yourself and your dog best. You may want to start out with 10 minutes and go from there. Or you may find that 30 minutes is not long enough. Start out and adjust as needed.
Preparation is key - Preparation is key when going out for your walks. It would mean the difference between a pleasant and fun walk or not. These three things are the necessities:
1. Always bring bags for cleaning and disposing of dog poop. Not only is it unpleasant to leave behind dog poop, but it also violates city codes.
2. Be sure to keep both of you hydrated by bringing water.
3. The biggest thing to not forget is to treats and reward your dog for their good behavior during the walk.
Change it up - Varying your routine will make your walks interesting and fun. Do this by changing your route, visiting exciting new places, or walking with others. While changing this up, you would want to try to keep your walks on schedule.
Safety - If you plan to walk your dog before sunrise or late afternoon/ early evenings, you will want to make sure you are visible to others. Wearing light color clothing or a reflective vest and having your dog on a lighted leash and collar combination would be helpful.
There you have it! Jumpstart January by walking your dog and you will see some amazing benefits for both of you. Happy National Walk Your Dog Month!