If you’re not walking your dog regularly, there’s a chance you could shorten its life by a year or more. Did you know that according to dog trainer Veronica Stilwell, a recent survey states that only half of dog owners walk their dog at least once per day?
Do you question the benefits of dog-walking?
- You may think that it doesn’t really matter because your dog doesn’t seem to enjoy walking, especially when it’s not 70 degrees and sunny outside.
- You might think it’s more trouble than it’s worth.
- You might think putting them in the backyard provides enough exercise.
Here are 6 Scientific reasons why walking your dog has been proven important to their health and wellbeing.
1. According PetBacker.com 93% of dog-owners said that walking their dog help their dog feel less stressed.
The other day after a long walk with both of my pups I stopped to grab some lunch. My younger dog, who normally worries constantly when out in public, settled right down under the table on the restaurant’s patio and peacefully watched the world pass her by. She did not fuss when other dogs, strollers, or bicycles went past. She was relaxed and content to remain lying down near me. The physical exertion of the walk helped her to decrease her stress levels.
2. BetterHealth.com states that pups who do not get exercised can quickly become obese, which can ultimately lead to cardiovascular and liver disease, osteoarthritis, and insulin resistance.
Several of our clients have noticed that their dogs have lost weight on a regular walking schedule. One client with an older Labrador retriever who needed to lose 10 pounds even got a compliment from her veterinarian about the dog’s weight loss. The pup was also able to move more easily even in his old age, due both to the weight loss and to the improved joint mobility from more consistent activity.
3. Consistent walks can also improve digestive and urinary health according to VCA Hospitals.
Dogs love their schedules and routines. Often dogs prefer to “go” on a schedule and providing your pet with the opportunity to relieve itself consistently can help prevent constipation since walking promotes digestion. Bladder retention can also lead to urinary tract infections so allowing your dog to regularly empty it’s bladder will keep him/her both happy and healthy.
4. The Animal Foundation notes lack of exercise and walking can affect dogs’ mental health as well. If your pet is not given the opportunity to explore new sights and smells he or she can become bored, and as any puppy owner knows, boredom leads to destruction. Lack of exercise and interaction can also lead to fear or stress.
I had the wonderful opportunity to work with two young dogs as a pet sitter. Both boys were highly intelligent but were destroying their homes, furniture, and owner’s possessions. Once we got them both on regular walks they settled down immensely. Now, they get their physical and mental stimulation from sniffing along for an hour outside rather than chewing up the drywall or eating every dvd out of the cabinet!
Walks can also help teach your dogs how to adapt to its environment more effectively. Many dogs hate the cold, the heat, the rain or the snow (or all of the above!). Adding the positive association of walks and sniffing and special bonding time to these often upsetting weather conditions can recondition your pooch to appreciate rather than fear the weather. Be sure to keep your pup safe during extreme conditions, go at their pace and don’t force them, and bring lots of treats to help them adjust! YourDogAdvisor.com has some great tips for getting your pup excited about walking in the rain!
5. According to Positively.com consistent walks with your dog can strengthen your bond and decrease their loneliness.
Sitting home all day can get pretty lonely for your pup. Not only can walking with you (or a dog walker!) help to alleviate some of that loneliness, walking can help to build trust with your pet and improve their behavioral development. Our pet sitters have commented that walking dogs, particularly shy ones, is one of the best ways to get them to interact directly and form positive associations with the sitter. Not only does walking help build your pet’s trust in you, but it helps build their confidence in interacting with the world around them.
6. PetMD notes that dog walking can boost emotional health and mitigate unwanted behaviors.
Ever have one of those dogs that sits in front of you staring soulfully into your eyes and then promptly smacks you with her paw and lets out an ear piercing bark? I have and it’s not a joyful occasion. Constant attention seeking through unwanted behaviors like pawing, jumping, whining, and barking is annoying to us and harmful to your dog’s ability to interact with society. Regular walks help your pup get out excess energy and allow your pet to spend time with you in a positive manner.
This last one is for all of the cat owners out there:
Bonus 7. Regular walks can also provide physical and mental health advantages for your cat says Jackson Galaxy.
Many people think that leash-training a cat is insane. However there are many cats that benefit from outdoor access in a controlled manner. Cats who have been leash trained are more easily able to maintain a normal weight and have an interesting outlet to relieve their stress and stave off boredom, as well as improve their bond with you. After a walk, cats can come home relaxed and more able to handle changes in their daily routine. But please be sure that your cat wants to go outside and take a walk. After all, this is all about improving their health, not increasing their stress!
So if you were skeptical of the benefits of dog-walking before this post – you no longer have an excuse! Get out there and enjoy the world with your four-legged best friend!