Did Someone Say the 'W' Word?
Summer is coming and as our dogs love to remind us, "Walkies are a good thing"! The benefits are surprisingly significant for you and your pooch. Walking your dog should be about more than getting ‘business’ done. ;) We all know walking the dog is essential for a healthy life but taking your pupper out for a stroll provides many other positive benefits, not only for them but for yourself, too!
How Does Walking the Dog Keep Everyone Healthy?
Your actions can positively impact the overall health of you and your pupper. Three key points for physical health:
Maintaining a Healthy Body Weight & Condition
A significant health issue for dogs is obesity. A regular walking schedule is an excellent way to burn excess calories and keep the weight off – for you and your dog.
Keeping Joints Healthy
For doggos that live in the city, immobility can be a health problem. Like hoomans, their doggy joints must work to stay strong and supple. We all know how stiff we are after a long day at the office or binge-watching our favourite TV series! Everyone gets stiff when sedentary, and keeping joints in motion helps improves their function.
Urinary & Digestive Health
Keeping your dog regular may be as simple as scheduling regular walks! Walking does help regulate the digestive tract. Some dogs (like some people) prefer to go on a schedule, and providing your dog with routine outdoors trips prevents constipation and can fend off urinary tract infections. UTI’s occur when urine stays in the bladder for long periods, so regular emptying also keeps the urinary system healthy.
Sometimes the Yard is Not Enough
There are plenty of benefits to walking beyond just being so much fun!
If you give dogs something interesting to do, like taking a walk, they are less likely to get bored and do something destructive like chewing furniture, footwear or your fence. Walking exercises the mind and the body. Watching birds and squirrels, sniffing out new paths, and seeing other people with their canine companions, are all excellent mental stimulation for your dog that cannot be achieved in a fenced yard or patio. Also, did you know that walking releases excess energy, and this helps your dog sleep better at night?
We are the center of our dog’s universe, and they crave nothing more than to be with us. So what better way to spend quality time together than by taking a nice walk? Deepen your bond by spending one-on-one time with them, which will help deter attention-seeking behaviours such as excessive whining and barking.
For your emotional health - Spending time on walks with your dog can also reduce depression and anxiety. Humans have an innate instinct to touch and feel and to experience a physical connection with others. Dogs also share this fixed pattern of behavior, allowing a physical bond between humans and animals. This physical bond can strengthen the emotional relationships between dogs and their human companions. Walking is just one type of physical interaction that can enhance the human-animal bond. Hardened criminals have exhibited long-term behavioral changes after interacting with dogs in prison programs. For many prisoners, communication with the animals was their first experience with unconditional love and mutual affection. (Source)
One of our favourite examples is the wisdom in Eckhart Tolle's book, Guardians of Being: Spiritual Teachings from Our Dogs and Cats:
As we have shared, regular walking has health benefits for you and your dog and will also help prevent obesity, which is a significant problem in both species. So many doggos are overweight, and the sad truth is obese dogs do not live as long as fit dogs. Plus, they suffer more heart problems and joint ailments that affect their quality of life. While it is true that dogs may exercise themselves if left in a fenced-in yard, they are very similar to us and tend to lie in the shade instead of running alone.
For our physical health - Dog pawrents enjoy numerous health and social benefits by walking their dog a few times a week. Benefits include improved cardiovascular fitness, lower blood pressure, stronger muscles and bones (built up by walking regularly), and decreased stress to name a few!
So, leash up and just go - even if only for 15 minutes! Walking your dog is a great start to fulfilling these recommendations for you and your family and leads to a healthy, happier dog...and a happier you!
*Image credits and Virchew's illustrator consultant: Chris Beetow