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When you make the decision to welcome a dog into your life, you know you’ll be spending a lot of time with your walking shoes on. Dog walking isn’t just a task on your never-ending to-do list—it’s a lifestyle! Your furry friend wouldn’t have it any other way.
Dogs generally need to go outside to, well, answer nature’s call, but it can be so much more than that. Dog walking has its fair share of wonderful health benefits and has the potential to be a meaningful experience for you and your pup. And while you and your dog might already be besties, getting into a regular walking routine will also be helpful when it comes to bonding with your dog.
Read on to learn more about how to get the most out of walking your dog.
How to Walk a Dog
If you’re a veteran dog owner, you might assume you already know how to walk a dog—and your way probably works just fine! But it never hurts to review the basics.
Here are a few key dog walking tips, according to famed dog trainer Cesar Milan:
- Stay in front of your dog during your walk as much as possible. This will help remind your dog that you’re the leader of the pack.
- Remain in control of the walk by using a shorter leash.
- Reward your dog for good behavior by letting them sniff around and explore.
- Make sure you allow plenty of time for your walk so you’re not rushing the process.
- Give your dog food or a treat at the end of the walk.
Dog Walking Safety
Properly walking a dog goes a little further than those basic tips, though. Dog walking safety is also important for the health of both you and your pooch. Here are a few things to keep in mind so you can keep safety first:
- Make sure that you and your dog both stay hydrated. For a longer walk, bring along a collapsible bowl and a water bowl for your furry pal.
- Walk in visible areas, especially if you’re out in the early morning or late at night.
- Check your dog’s paws for cuts and bruises at the end of every walk, especially if you were taking your stroll on rough ground. If you were near a wooded area, you should also check them for ticks.
- Stay away from high-traffic roads if you can! If you are walking on a road with lots of cars, walk opposite traffic so you can be as aware as possible of potential dangers.
- If you enjoy listening to music, tuning into podcasts, or talking on the phone while you walk your dog, ensure that the volume is set low enough that you can still hear and respond to what’s going on around you.
Benefits of Walking at Night
In order to be safe when walking your dog in the evening, it’s best to stay in well-lit areas where others can see or hear you. Although dog walking at night requires a few extra precautions for safety, it also has its perks. There are benefits to walking your dog at night that you just can’t get during the daylight hours.
- In many places, it’s much cooler at night than it is during the day. You and your dog will both be more comfortable in these conditions—and might even be able to walk for longer distances.
- There may be less car traffic for you to deal with in the evening.
- Mornings can be so chaotic! If you wait to walk your dog until later in the day, you may have extra time to work with. Your dog will thank you.
- After a long day, exercising and spending some quality time with your dog will help you regroup, blow off steam, and prepare to relax. (More on the mental and physical health benefits of dog walking below!)
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Benefits of Walking Your Dog
There’s a lot of talk out there these days about self care. Why shouldn’t going for walks with your canine companion count as a form of self care? (Spoiler alert: It totally does.)
Just like any other form of movement or exercise, walking your dog has a lot of benefits to offer your life… and not only yours! This might seem obvious, but it never hurts to spell things out: Dog walking will do wonders for your dog, too.
There are many benefits of walking your dog daily for both of you.
Bonding With Your Dog
If you’re wondering how to bond with your dog, it might be time to put on those walking shoes and get moving. Just like your relationships with humans, your relationship with your pet requires time and attention—and since dogs need to be walked, regular dog walking exercise makes for a perfect bonding activity.
And it’s more than just spending the time! Walking with your dog gives you a chance to build trust with your pup. As your dog explores new environments and gains confidence, they’ll also feel closer to you. You should expect to be repaid in lots of cuddles and tail wags. Is there any better reward for a pet parent? (Answer: nope!)
The walks you take with your dog can be as leisurely or as vigorous as you’d like. If you’re looking for more ways to move your body so you can reap the benefits of physical exercise, adding a little distance or speed to your dog walks is a no-brainer. You’ll be adding more movement to your daily routine while giving your pooch an opportunity to exercise, too. It’s a win-win.
Even Harvard Health confirms that walking your dog counts as effective exercise! Assuming you already have a dog that needs to be walked, prioritizing dog walks is a fantastic approach to making more time in a busy schedule for your physical health.
Feeling stressed? Feeling blue? You might consider grabbing your dog’s leash and hitting the road as a first (literal) step to getting your mood on track.
One of the more surprising benefits of walking your dog is the potential it has to improve your mood! Like other types of exercise, dog walking is good for your mental health. One study from Harvard Health showed a 26% decrease in the odds of becoming depressed for every significant increase in physical activity. The same study proved that even gentle forms of movement—like a slower, shorter walk with your pet—can add up to fend off depression and make for happier humans.
Regular walks are also good for your dog’s mood. After all, getting out for a stroll is often one of the most exciting things on a dog’s daily agenda. You wouldn’t want to deprive them of that fun and excitement!
Trying to help your dog lose weight? When you prioritize dog walking, weight issues just might become a thing of the past, for both you and your furry friend.
It should hardly come as a surprise to you that consistently taking walks can support your weight loss efforts as a human. Yes—walking your dog for weight loss is a real thing, as long as you do it regularly.
But if you haven’t been sure how to help your dog lose weight, you’ve got your answer. In addition to curbing treats, watching your dog’s food intake, encouraging them to play, and taking them to the park, leashing up more frequently is a great way to address any concerns that you and your vet may have about your pet’s weight.
It’s no secret that humans are spending a lot of time inside and on screens these days. It’s practically impossible to step away entirely from phones, tablets, and computers for more than a few minutes!
One of the many wonderful things about having a dog is that they encourage you to put down the screens and get more fresh air. Actually, they do more than encourage it—most of them insist that you go outside.
When you’re walking your dog, you’re exposing yourself to much-needed fresh air and vitamin D. According to Cornell University, fresh air helps reduce stress. And the natural vitamin D that comes from the sun helps fight disease, reduces depression, and boosts weight loss, per Healthline.
Plus, let’s get real—your dog loves being outside. Just because!
Walks are good for your mental health, in addition to your physical health. Harvard Health notes that this kind of exercise slows cognitive decline, reduces the risk of dementia, and can provide a boost any time you’re dealing with mental fog or distraction.
Canines experience something similar when they go for a walk. You’ve probably noticed that your dog sniffs and explores a lot any time you’re on the move. These activities keep their brains active and engaged.
Put On Your Walking Shoes!
Now that you have the full picture of the benefits of walking your dog, you might just feel more inspired than ever to get your pup out the door and into the neighborhood or on the trail. Who knows? You might be so excited about this information—and love dogs so much—that you decide to start a dog walking business of your own.
Whether dog walking remains a hobby or becomes more of a money-making enterprise, it’s good for you and the canines you love. Get walking!
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