It is common knowledge that walking your dog is a necessary task for dog owners, however, all too often owners neglect this chore. While some people never walk their canine companion at all, others may start off well and gradually taper off their walking routines. What many dog owners may not have noticed is that their pet’s behavior is directly linked to the exercise they receive from being walked.
The Benefits of Walking Your Dog
There are many benefits from ensuring that your dog is walked on a regular basis, both for your pet and yourself. Daily walks provide your dog with both physical and mental exercise, as well as some training. In addition to this, it provides you and your pet the opportunity to bond and can help alleviate behavioral issues.
1. Natural Canine Instincts
Since wolves are the true ancestors of the domesticated canine, there are still many natural instincts which remain. Wolves and wild dogs are nomadic animals which can roam many miles in a single day in search of food and water. Even though the canine has come a long way since their domestication, they still have the natural instincts to roam and explore their surroundings. Going for routine walks provides your dog with the opportunity to explore their surroundings and placate their instincts to roam. It also provides them with a sense of direction which can help them find their way home should they ever become lost.
2. Companion Bonding
Dogs are naturally pack animals which are used to living in a hierarchal community. When they are domesticated and become the companion of humans, they feel much the same way about their ‘family.’ Going for regular walks helps to reinforce the bond between a pet and their owner(s). Not only can regular walking help the dog to understand their position in the family, but their owner’s position as ‘pack leader.’ Not to mention, it also helps to strengthen and reinforce the bond and companionship between the dog and their owner.
3. Physical & Mental Exercise
A dog’s senses are much keener than the average human. Sights, smells and sounds are much more complex and intriguing to a dog. Whereas a human cannot sense the depth that a dog does. A dog’s natural instincts are to be completely aware of their surroundings and ensure that there is nothing out of the ordinary. When going for a walk, your dog is constantly watching, sniffing and even considering their surroundings. Simply walking the same route every day can provide a multitude of stimulation for your canine’s senses as they can detect even the slightest changes. Not only are the walks healthy for your dog’s physical condition, but they are also much like mental exercises.
4. Excessive Energy & Behavioral Problems
Many dog breeds are just naturally hyper and full of energy, as a result they tend to have behavioral problems whenever they are not getting enough exercise. Much like a small child, this pent up energy can lead to destructive behaviors. Walking your dog everyday ensures that this excess energy is burned, so that your pet is not behaving in a destructive manner to burn off the extra energy. A dog with excess, pent up energy may also suffer from anxiety, boredom and nervousness. Any of these conditions can also lead your dog to behave in a manner that is destructive, bothersome or otherwise unbecoming. The very first step to addressing any behavior problems with your dog is ensuring that they are receiving an appropriate amount of exercise. After exercising, your dog should be calm and in a good mood, making it the perfect opportunity to do some behavior training.
Walking your dog on a regular basis provides important social interactions between them and the environment around them. Interacting with the environment around them can help your dog become stable and confident in their surroundings. Dogs which have not been exposed and allowed to interact with their surroundings can become fearful, cowardly and easily startled by strange sounds or people. This fearfulness can also lead to inappropriate behaviors, such as biting out of fear or losing control of their bladder. In addition, it can also cause your dog to have behavioral problems if you need to travel, or leave your pet at a boarding house or with a pet-sitter. On the other hand, dogs which are walked regularly are more confident and at ease, even in unfamiliar surroundings.
How to Properly Walk Your Dog
Not only is it important to understand why walking your dog is important, but also how to walk them properly. Not knowing how to properly walk your dog can lead to behavioral problems which make walking your dog a stressful chore, instead of a relaxing chance to bond with your pet.
The first step to properly walking your dog is ensuring that you have an appropriate collar and leash for the task. While smaller dogs can easily use a small collar, larger dogs (especially ones with excess energy) may require a sturdier collar until a good walking routine is established. Whenever your dog is wearing their collar, you should ensure that it fits well by slipping your fingers between the collar and their neck. You should be able to slip 2 fingers in the space between their collar and neck, but not more than 3 as they might be able to slip it over their head. If your dog is not used to the collar and leash, then it is a good idea to let them wear it around the house or yard until they become used to it.
The next step to properly walking your dog is to establish a good walking routine and take your place as the pack leader. Whenever walking your dog, you should stand directly beside them with a firm grip on the leash, ensuring that it is tight enough for you to control the speed and direction without being tight enough to choke of compromise their air supply. Do not allow your dog to lead or drag you along wherever they want to go. A firm grip on the leash will ensure that they must follow your lead and match your speed.
It is also a good idea to bring a few supplies along whenever you walk your dog, such as water, treats and doggie poop bags. It is much easier for dogs to become dehydrated after strenuous exercise, which is why many dog owners decide to invest in a ‘dog water bottle’ that comes with a built-in drinking bowl. Likewise, many dog owners prefer to ensure that their dog walking route is complete with a watering hole to stop by. It is also important to abide by city and park rules about picking up behind your pet, which is where the doggie poop bags come in handy.
You should also remember that walking your dog, just like any other training, is an important opportunity to reinforce positive behaviors with praise and treats. Not only should your walking be a calming and relaxing exercise, but it should also be a great learning exercise.
Walking your dog offers many benefits and opportunities for both you and your dog. With regular walks your dog will receive the physical and mental exercise that they need, which helps to eliminate unruly behaviors. Walking regularly can also help your canine companion develop the confidence that they need to successfully interact with the world around them. Finally, walking also offers a great opportunity to train and bond with your pet. All in all, walking your dog regularly can lead to numerous benefits for both dog and owner.