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Posted on 02-24-2016

Now that Spring is approaching and mild weather is on the horizon, our thoughts naturally start turning to outdoor activities. Chances are your dog is also a little stir-crazy after spending more time inside during the cold winter months. Now would be a great time to do something enjoyable and healthy for both of you: like going for a walk together!

We know that walking has great health benefits for humans. But did you know it’s also great for your dog? These are only a few of the benefits.

  • Improved physical health. Walking is a great tool to help your pup lose pounds. Recent studies have shown that a thirty minute walk three times a week can decrease your dog’s weight by 15% (and yours by 5%!) Walking also helps keep joints limber and muscles toned, so it’s great for dogs with arthritis or other musculoskeletal conditions. Just be sure to watch your dog’s cues and don’t overdo.
  • Better quality of life. Walking is good for your pet’s mental health. It provides sensory stimulation, with new smells to explore and sights to process. During walks, your dog has the opportunity to meet other humans and dogs, and to work on his social skills. Walking also helps keep him from getting bored.
  • Strengthening of the bond between you and your dog. You are the center of your dog’s universe, and time spent with you is her very favorite time. When you and your dog walk together, you deepen your relationship. Your dog will begin to anticipate your time together and will have something to look forward to.
  • Better behavior. Knowing that he’ll be spending special time with you every day, your dog won’t have to use attention-seeking behaviors like barking and whining to interact with you. And because walking also helps burn off excessive energy, destructive behaviors like chewing, digging and tearing up furniture may be curtailed.

Despite all the benefits, 33% of dog owners admit they “rarely” walk their dogs.  One of the most common reasons cited by owners is that the dog doesn’t behave well on walks. Here are some tips that may make walking with your dog more enjoyable.

  • Use the right equipment. Choose a sturdy leash that’s easy to hold but avoid retractable leashes; they don’t give you enough control. If your dog has a tendency to cough, consider a halter. Consult your veterinarian or trainer before using a chain or pinch collar.
  • Push Back. If your dog pulls constantly on the leash, consider using a head collar like the Gentle Leader. The halter-like collar fits over her nose and redirects her head toward you when she pulls forward.
  • Expend a little energy. Let your dog run around the yard, or play a few games of fetch before starting your walk.
  • Be patient. When you first start walking with your dog, it’s a novel thing and it will take your pup time to become accustomed. Reward good behavior, follow your dog’s cues, and start small.  But don’t give up- your efforts will pay off!

Another reason owners gave for not walking with their dogs is they don’t have time. We all have busy lives and many demands on our time, but time spent walking with your dog is an investment in your health and his, and in your relationship. Today’s a great day to make a commitment to giving your dog (and yourself!) a better life, so pick up that leash and head toward the door! I guarantee your dog will follow.   

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