I don’t know about you and your pup but Bella and I love to walk. Most days we go twice a day, once in the morning and once in the late afternoon/evening. It’s a really special time for us, we see our neighborhood critters, check in with our neighbors and friends, and we move our bodies and minds.
2020 was an interesting year for our walks, it was surprising to meet so many new dogs in our neighborhood this last year while we were out walking during the corona virus quarantine. It wasn’t because all my neighbors got new dogs, although some did. It was because people were forced to stay home, started to work from home, and were bored from being home so much and found freedom in walking their dogs. While I have been walking my dogs for years and years I am thrilled to see so many people out with their dogs walking, training and having fun. I truly believe walking is the key to life for us and our dogs. My beloved senior gals Dorothy and Tyra both loved walking and walked nearly up until they went to the rainbow bridge. Sure the walks were slower some days and shorter other days but they were always excited to go even if it was just a 5 minute walk.
Benefits of Walking Your Dog
Walking with your pup is a great way to lose weight and maintain physical health for both of you. Did you know that 55% of dogs in America are overweight and nearly 20% obese?! Having your dog at their ideal weight helps with them live a longer healthier life, helps their joints from being overworked, and helps decrease the risk of serious health issues developing. Consistent walks also helps with good digestion and bladder health. Walking also improves joint health by keeping them moving. You know that old saying if you rest, you rust! Keeping your pet healthier also helps with costly vet visits.
Did you know dogs get much needed mental stimulation on a walk? They get to see other people, dogs, smell new smells, maybe even see some wild life like squirrels or birds. All of that is exciting to them. It’s much different than just being let out in the yard where everything mostly the same and pretty boring. The combo of mental and physical stimulation also helps tire your pup out so they may be less likely to look for trouble to get into while at home.
Connection with You
Walks are a great time to connect with your dog. One on one time is important to strengthen and keep a bond with your pup. When Bella and I walk it is very special time for us, I choose to not be on my phone and focus on what she’s interested in and what’s going on around us. Don’t get me wrong occasionally I will have the phone out to snap a pic of Bella or the sunrise or sunset but there is absolutely no checking emails or social media while we walk. Walk time is also a great time to work on some training while we are out of the house so your pup learns to do tricks and work on obedience in different places. Adding sits, working on stay while on leash, and even a few tricks adds some variety to our time together.
Now you may have gotten this far and thought “This is all fine and good by my dog is a mess and pulls like a maniac when we walk, that’s why we don’t walk.” I totally get that. Dogs aren’t inherently good leash walkers and need training and consistency to be good leash walkers. Look up dog trainers in your area to work with or check out some of the great resources online like Dog Training by Kikopup. It’s worth it for both of you to do the work.
~ Take it slow if you are just starting out. Begin with short walks and build up to a walk length that is comfortable for you and your dog.
~ Be consistent. If possible spread out exercise daily. It’s hard on dogs physically to not walk at all during the week then go for an extremely long walk or big hike just on the weekends.
~ Schedule it! Make time for what’s important. Schedule it in your phone and set an event or write it down on your paper calendar. This way you can’t forget!
~ Keep all your walk essentials in one place. This makes it easy to get ready and go! I hang Bella’s harness and leash that has our leash bag attached right by the front door. I come in and hang it up right away then theres no time wasted getting upset trying to find where the heck I put it last time.
~ Be mindful of the weather. If it's really cold you may need paw protection and even a sweater for your pup and keep the walks shorter. If it’s hot you always want to go early in the morning or later in the day when it’s cooler.
~ 5 minutes is better than nothing! Some days are busier than others, believe me I get that, if all you can do is 5 minutes that’s better than nothing. Having an all or nothing attitude like “If we can’t walk 30 minutes a day I am not doing it” is not the way to go. Do what you can when you can. Your pup will be happy with 5 minutes and chances are if you are so busy that all you have is 5 minutes you will be happier having had a break outside getting some fresh air and seeing something besides your phone or the computer.
~ Be a good neighbor. ALWAYS PICK UP AFTER YOUR DOG!
Walking is just one way to get exercise for your pup. It’s important to talk to your vet about what’s appropriate for your pup at their stage in life.
Wishing you many happy walks with your dog, Alexandra
Photos in this blog were taken by Lasaundra D Photography