Taking Fido out for a stroll is often viewed as an obligatory chore, another mundane task on an already long to-do list. But dog walking isn’t just about the health of your four-legged friend—it’s a fantastic opportunity to boost your own mental and physical health, too.
In preparation for National Walk Your Dog Week (October 1-7), we spoke to Pet360, a trusted online hub for pet parenting advice, which surveyed more than 4,000 dog owners to find out how often the average canine is walked by a human companion. Their survey found that only half of dog owners walk their dog at least once per day. Even more surprising is the fact that 33 percent of respondents said they rarely take their dogs for a walk, preferring instead to let them out in the yard.
According to Dr. Katy Nelson, a renowned veterinary and host of The Pet Show with Dr. Katy, dog walking is extremely beneficial—not just for canines, but for their human owners, too. “Over 60 percent of humans in the United States are overweight or obese, and our pets mirror that statistic,” Dr. Nelson says. “Taking our dogs for a walk not only helps them burn calories, build lean muscle mass and relieve stress, it can also provide those same benefits to the two-legger on the other end of the leash.”
While 75% of respondents did say their dogs get at least 30 minutes of exercise per day, those who choose not to take their four-legged friends for a stroll are missing out on the benefits regular walks provide both canine and human.
Not in the habit of walking your pooch? Here are five compelling reasons to hit the pavement with your four-legged friend this fall:
1. Promotes Weight Control & Digestive Health.
An overweight pet is an unhealthy pet. In addition to regulating your dog’s diet, regular exercise will keep your pet fit, agile, and limber. Daily walks also support your pet’s digestive health and aid in relieving occasional constipation.
2. Alleviates Destructive Behavior & Hyperactivity.
Hitting the pavement with your pup can help reduce or eliminate your pet’s destructive chewing, digging, or scratching. Pets are like children—if you don’t give them something constructive to do, they might take matters into their own paws. Evening walks can also help alleviate pent up energy, helping your dog feel more relaxed at bedtime. Be sure to follow these nighttime safety tips to make sure both you and your pet are protected.
3. Strengthens Your Bond.
Spending quality time together is extremely important to your dog’s behavioral development. Daily walks help strengthen your bond and promote a trusting relationship.
4. Encourages Socialization.
If you have a timid or fearful pet, strolling around the neighborhood can help your pooch build confidence and trust. Walks expose your pet to other humans and animals, which will help him or her adapt to new or intimidating situations. Check out these tips for ensuring stress-free walks with your dog.
5. Boosts Your Health, Too.
Walking a pet is sometimes regarded as a chore, but it should be thought of as a way for you and your canine to stay active together. Getting outdoors with your pup in tow is beneficial for both parties involved. Plus, communing with nature comes with a raft of tremendous psychological and physical benefits. Studies show that spending time outside can boost cognition and memory and increase your overall sense of well-being. What’s more, logging miles on the trails can lower blood pressure, stave off depression, strengthen your bones and slash your diabetes risk. Who knows—you may even shed a few pounds in the process!
So this autumn, grab a leash and hit the trails with your beloved furry friend by your side. Not only will your pooch reap the physical and mental benefits of daily exercise, you’ll benefit, too—maybe in the form of sloppy dog kisses, or maybe even in a smaller pants size.