January is National Walk Your Dog Month, and it’s perfect timing to sync up with your New Year’s resolution to get more exercise. Some fresh winter air, with a bit of caution, is great for you and your pet. The benefits of walking for human health are many. The same is true for your dog. Here are ten great reasons to get out with your pooch today and all year! Walking your dog:
- Provides an outlet for his energy. Dogs build up energy that needs to be expended. If it doesn’t happen through walking, it can result in destructive behavior. A tired dog is a well-behaved dog, and a bored dog can become a bad dog. A good walk can also calm a hyperactive or energetic dog.
- Aids in training. Draining energy results in a calmer and more satisfied dog who is more likely to focus on you and your training. The walk itself should be a time of training. Done correctly, it can reinforce the bond between you and your dog. Remember that you should be in control and walking your dog, not the other way around.
- Fulfills his natural roaming and exploring instincts. In nature, dogs walk as a pack and roam for miles every day searching for food and water. Even though your dog is not a wild dog, walking is still a natural instinct. Dogs are working, thinking animals that need a purpose beyond sitting or sleeping all day long. Walking provides a sense of direction and accomplishment. Regular walks can help prevent a dog’s desire to run away or bolt out the door in an attempt to fulfill the roaming instinct.
- Provides physical and mental stimulation. Exploring their surroundings with their senses is an instinctual activity for dogs. During the course of a walk, your dog will be exposed to all sorts of smells, sights and sounds. This also acts as a mental workout for the brain.
- Provides social interaction. Socialization is an important part of any dog’s life, especially in his early years. When walking, you will most likely encounter other people, children and other dogs. This will help to build your dog’s confidence and social skills. Dogs who are not walked can become more fearful and shy, or they might lack the necessary social skills to interact with people and other dogs.
- Provides exposure to “worldly” things. This can create a more confident and stable dog. A dog who is walked often will become more comfortable around bicycles, skateboards, traffic noises, loud trucks, mailmen, etc. Dogs without this exposure can become fearful, skittish and territorial, seeing every strange sound, vehicle or person as a threat. Many dogs who bark constantly are barking out of fear of everything they hear or see that is strange to them.
- Facilitates bonding with other dogs. If you own other dogs, walking them together will help them bond with each other and prevent behavior problems between them.
- Gives him the attention he needs. Dogs are social beings that crave our attention. Walking with them provides them with your attention and structured interaction.
- Is good for his health. Regular walking can lengthen and improve the quality of your dog’s life.
- Is also good for you. Best of all, you will have a walking buddy and a reason to get out, get moving, enjoy the fresh air and get yourself healthy and fit!
We’d love to hear your favorite tips for making your dog walks enjoyable. And what are some of your favorite places to walk your dog? Can you identify the favorite dog walking spot in our picture? Share in the comments section here or on the Unity Animal Hospital Facebook page.
Adapted from The Benefits of Walking Your Dog