We all know that exercise is good for us, and every little bit of physical activity helps us improve our individual health and wellbeing. But did you know that getting out for a dog walk can offer added benefits? Check out all of the ways dog walking is good for you and your canine companion below:
1. Lowers blood pressure and decreases stress
Studies show that walking just 15 minutes a day can help lower your blood pressure, which often results in decreased stress levels. Getting outdoors for fresh air and vitamin D boosts our moods, helping us feel calmer, less stressed, and happier overall.
2. Aids cardiovascular fitness and obesity prevention
Walking at a brisk pace can count for your daily dose of cardio! And it’s an essential aerobic activity for both you and your pup. We’re familiar with the human benefits of a daily walk, but it’s equally important for dogs as it aids obesity prevention. Canine obesity often leads to other illnesses such as osteoarthritis, cardiovascular disease, liver disease, and insulin resistance. Walking can prevent these complications down the line!
3. Builds stronger muscles, bones, and joints
Our muscles, bones and joints are strengthened by our physical activity, getting out for a dog walk can actually make you feel a little stronger and stand a little taller! Walking for 15-30 minutes a day is an effective way to prevent osteoporosis (the loss of bone density). Much like us, as our dogs age they tend to suffer from joint pain, but regular walks can improve joint health and keep your furry friend active well into their old age.
4. Has a positive impact on mental health
It’s well documented that animals can have a positive impact on our mental health, as they tend to provide non-judgmental companionship and unconditional love. Not only does a dog walk offer an opportunity to practice mindfulness and take advantage of the benefits of being outdoors, but it can strengthen the bond between you and your pooch. And, you might not realise it, but a walk is excellent for your dog’s mental health too! Walking in new and unexplored areas gives them a constructive task to process different sights, smells and sounds. It’s great for mental stimulation and development.
5. Forms healthy habits and promotes accountability
There have been studies conducted which found that on average, dog owners were more likely to walk for recreation, as compared to non-owners. Your dog can actually influence you into forming lifelong, healthy habits! Plus, getting out for a daily walk will ensure that you’re active on a regular basis. It’s also been noted that dog walking can influence the development of healthy ‘co-disciplines,’ like getting up early for a dog walk each morning. Your dog depends on you for a walk, so you’re held accountable for getting those miles in!
6. Prevents bad behaviours
Taking your dog for a walk enhances their emotional health – when they spend one on one time with you, it builds a shared emotional connection that can help deter annoying and/or attention-seeking behaviours, such as whining and barking. And, getting your dog out of the house each day will prevent boredom, which often leads to chewing and destructive behaviours.
7. Boosts social skills for both parties
According to one survey, people that walk dogs are perceived as more friendly and approachable, as well as more likely to acknowledge and greet others in the street. Having a dog can break uncomfortable social barriers between people, and encourage you to meet others in your neighbourhood or community. And that’s just for people! Going for a dog walk exposes your dog to other people, objects, and animals, so they have the opportunity to learn suitable social behaviours. Regular walks, starting from an early age, encourage dogs to develop appropriate social manners and etiquette.
8. Provides an opportunity for training
Walking is particularly beneficial for dogs as it aids their digestive and urinary health. In short, it helps them use the loo! Daily walks are a good excuse to practice using the bathroom outdoors, especially for puppies. Walks also give you the chance to practice training techniques like working on commands and recall. Training is another great way for your dog to engage in mental stimulation.
How to get more out of your walk
If you’re wondering how to get even more goodness out of your dog walks, try these tips!
Explore a new area or try a new route - it's good for your dog to experience new surroundings.
Bring toys along to try a new game or increase their exercise intake.
Pack some treats for training, your pup will love being rewarded for learning a new skill!
Invite a friend - either human or canine - to add some fun.