6 Compelling Reasons to Make Daily Dog Walks a Priority
It’s been a long day and you just want to put your feet up. The last thing you feel like doing is taking your pooch for a long walk. Believe me, we’ve all been there! The thing is, daily dog walks are super important for your dog’s mental and physical health. Believe it or not, they’re good for you, too! Here are six compelling reasons every dog owner should make daily dog walks a priority.
1. Dogs Are Instinctually Driven to Walk and Roam
Throughout history, people have bred dogs to thrive in certain climates or perform certain tasks. You’ve probably heard of herding dogs, working dogs, and sporting dogs, right? So, it makes sense that, whether your dog is mixed or purebred, it’s pretty likely that he has genetic traits that drive him to stay active.
But, there’s even more to it than that. Much like birds need to fly and fish need to swim, dogs are born with a natural urge to roam. In the wild, it’s typical for a pack of dogs to walk several miles every day, hunting for food and water. The alpha dog takes the lead and everyone else follows. Daily dog walks actually fulfill that deep-down instinct that tells your pooch he needs to walk.
Of course, in these modern times, most domesticated dogs don’t have the opportunity, or the need, to do the jobs they were bred for… the very tasks their instincts are urging them to perform. Even dogs who have access to a big, fenced-in yard probably don’t get enough exercise on their own. There just isn’t enough stimulation in the average backyard to keep a dog active.
2. Daily Dog Walks Are Essential for Physical Health
Of course, daily dog walks are good for your dog’s health in other ways, too. Exercise is the best way to avoid obesity, which is hard on your pup’s organs, joints, and health overall. Just like regular checkups, proper dental hygiene, and annual vaccines, walking is also an important part of his preventative health care. It helps to keep his heart, bones, and muscles strong. Staying active is a great way to prevent and relieve joint issues like arthritis, too.
3. Walking is Good for His Mental Health, Too
Walking reduces stress, depression, and anxiety in dogs, much the same as it does for humans. Daily dog walks provide the mental stimulation dog’s need, especially if they’re cooped up at home most of the time.
In fact, for most dogs, their walk is the highlight of their day. They love to be outdoors, sniffing around and engaging in their environment. Depending on where you’re walking, they might even have opportunities to socialize with other dogs and people.
While a game of fetch or a trip to the dog park are great ways to get some exercise, they don’t offer the same mental stimulation a dog gets from exploring the scents, sights, and sounds in his own neighborhood. Dogs love having an opportunity to investigate the changes that have happened in their territory since the last time they came through.
4. Daily Walks Offer a Great Opportunity to Practice Skills
When you take your pup for a walk, it’s the perfect time to practice his basic obedience skills. For example, you might encounter other people or dogs along your route, so take the opportunity to reinforce proper social skills.
Bring along some treats and practice things like sit and lay down, too. Even better, dogs who learn basic obedience and go for long walks each day are better behaved, they have fewer issues with dominancy, less separation anxiety, and they’re less prone to destructive behavior.
5. Walking is Good for Pet Parents, Too
We’re all making an effort to stay fit and healthy these days, so why not skip the gym and take your best buddy for a long walk instead? Walking is just as good for pet parents as it is for their fur babies.
It helps us maintain a healthy weight, prevents heart disease and high blood pressure, keeps our bones strong, improves balance and coordination, and fights depression. Who wouldn’t want that? The more active you both are, the better you both will feel!
6. It’s a Great Way to Strengthen Your Bond with Your New Dog
If you’ve recently adopted a new dog and he’s a little scared of you, one of the best ways to build a solid bond is to take him for walks each day. It’s the perfect time for the two of you to build trust and confidence and generally get to know each other. You might be surprised to discover that the real way to win over your new dog is by taking him for walks, rather than simply tossing him a treat.
A Few Things to Keep in Mind
For some dogs, learning how to walk properly on a leash can be a real challenge, and it’s no fun trying to walk a dog that drags you all over the place. Don’t let poor leash manners ruin your daily walks! Try signing up for an obedience class or consulting with a trainer in your area for some pointers. Your pet sitter, groomer, or vet might be able to connect you with some local resources.
You may also be wondering how long your daily walks should be. It really depends on your dog, so watch him for ques. If he seems tired after five or 10 minutes, head home and gradually increase the length of your walks over time.
For most dogs, 20 minutes is usually about right. As long as your senior dog is healthy, willing, and able, he’ll appreciate a 20-minute walk, as well. On the other hand, if your dog is extremely high-energy, longer walks are a must… perhaps 30-40 minutes. Some dogs might even need two or three long walks every day.
Some breeds with shorter noses or bulging eyes, like pugs and boston terriers, should wear a harness instead of a collar when on a leash. For dogs with health conditions, it’s always best to consult with your vet about the ideal length and frequency of his daily walks.
Don’t forget to plan for someone to walk your dog when you’re at work all day. Most pet sitters are available for individual walks during the day, so take advantage of it. Remember, daily dog walks are essential for your dog’s health and happiness, so don’t let your busy lifestyle get in the way!