Walking your four-legged friend is a great way to make him a happy little pooch, but there are more reasons to walk your dog than just health and happiness.
“Walkies” can contribute to your own health and enjoyment, and can even bring some unexpected perks for your dog. Here are some tips to help you maximize your dog walking experience.
Prepare for Your Walk
Before you take your dog out for a relaxing jaunt, bring a few things with you and be aware of some dangers to your furry friend.
- Always bring either a few dog poop bags or some plastic grocery bags with you on your dog walks. In some places you can be prosecuted for littering if you leave the dog feces where they lie — and it’s rude too.
- If you are taking your dog out in the winter time, be aware that the industrial salting most cities use for road cleaning can seriously damage the pads of your dog’s paws. You may want to consider a pair of dog slippers for such an occasion.
- Carry a bottle of water, especially in the summertime. Your dog can get overheated, whether a long-haired breed or short-haired, and will get thirsty on the trip.
Health Benefits for Both You and Your Dog
As mentioned before, there are many health benefits to walking your dog often — both to you and your dog.
As with any amount of walking, it will help you burn some calories. This can contribute to dropping those pounds you have wanted to shed, while at the same time keeping your dog fit. Most dogs need at least two hours a day of exercise time to stay healthy and happy.
If your dog has an exceptional amount of energy, walking can burn much of that away and can contribute to a more laid-back animal. Walking your dog on concrete, especially the rougher variety, can wear down their nails in a natural fashion. However, be wary of trying this practice during the summer months as the hot asphalt can wound your best friend’s feet.
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This video shows several people explaining how their lives have improved by walking their dogs:
Off-Leash for Bonus Points
Always keep safety in mind, but if you can manage it, off-leash walking is often a good way to go. It allows you to comfortably move along next to your dog as he plays around you.
Of course, only certain breeds of dogs can be trained off-leash. Some, like bloodhounds and terriers, will generally take off after potential prey regardless of how wonderfully they are trained. So they’re a definite no on the off-leash question.
It’s often a good precaution to do off-leash fun in a park-type setting for some safety. Some parks have enclosures for off-leash walking, and some trails also provide similar prospects. Taking your high-energy breed to a dog park is an ideal way to get him enough exercise. Remember, you should bring your dog only if he has been properly socialized; otherwise you may have troubles with fighting dogs.
The Dog That Pulls
If you are walking your dog on a retractable leash, be sure that he does not pull too far away. Other walkers may be intimidated by a rushing dog whose owner cannot adequately control the animal.
Unfortunately, with some breeds, like huskies, their natural disposition is to pull, but that can be reined in by obtaining dog training aids to help them learn not to pull. In addition, there are training exercises you can do with your dog to keep him within an arm’s length when you’re walking — like teaching the appropriate heel command.
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Let your puppy or younger dog greet other people and dogs that you meet on your daily jaunt, if they are okay with it. This will help your pup grow into a well-adjusted adult dog that doesn’t bark or get upset when he encounters other animals or people.
No matter how you walk your dog, be sure to do so as frequently as possible. It will provide benefits to your body and state of mind as well as those of your pet.
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