Understanding the 5 reasons why dogs need walks is something that can benefit every dog owner. As a pet care professional, I’m all too aware of the many roadblocks that can prevent you from getting out on regular walks with your dog.
Life with all the things you have to do each day can tire you out. So walking your dog might be the last thing on your mind.
Maybe shortening your walk is the only thing you can do to end the day on a good note. I totally understand how doing this can be stressful and guilt-provoking when it comes to dog walks.
Reading this blog post will clarify your big “why” for walking your dog. Having that big “why” can help provide that extra little bit of motivation when you come home pooped from work – and just want to skip walking your dog.
A good thing to remember when life pulls you in different directions is to think about walking your dog as a good thing and something to look forward to, rather than yet another item on your long To Do List.
5 Reasons Why Dogs Need Walks
# 1 Physical Exercise
Walking your dog gives your dog a chance to use those legs, eyes, nose, and ears and get energy out in a great way while walking on a leash with you.
Walking your dog also helps your dog stay active and maintain a healthy weight. When your dog doesn’t get enough exercise, he/she can become overweight or obese. The extra weight can lead to other issues like joint pain, diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer. These conditions can reduce the life expectancy and quality of life of your dog.
By walking your dog, you help your dog strengthen his/her muscles and joints reducing his/her risk of degenerative problems like arthritis. Likewise, by walking your dog, you help your dog strengthen his/her heart muscles and improve blood circulation, reducing his/her risk of heart disease and other related conditions.
Another great thing about walking your dog is it can help with going to the bathroom. The movement incurred while walking can keep your dog regular. Constipation and bloating are issues you want to avoid and exercise is great at preventing these issues.
So as you can see, just the simple act of walking your dog can do so much for your dog when it comes to his/her health.
#2 Mental Stimulation
Walking your dog can not only benefit your dog physically but also mentally.
Your dog’s nose, eyes, and ears can experience so many things, so walking your dog gives your dog another way to learn new things as well as interact with other dogs on your walks.
That’s because walking your dog allows him/her to experience new sights, sounds, and smells, which can provide mental stimulation and keep his/her mind active.
Sometimes as dog owners, we forget that walking is not only good for us but for our dogs, as walking your dog gives him/her a chance to experience the outside world in a great way. And if your dog doesn’t go on enough walks then some behavioral problems may develop.
These behaviors include destructive behavior due to your dog being bored, anxious, and restless. These include chewing on furniture, digging holes, getting into stuff like food or other items you might not even expect, as well as chewing up things you leave for them too.
Excessive barking can be another behavior that shows up because your dog is bored, restless, or stressed out and that is the only thing he/she can do at home.
Hyperactivity can be another behavioral problem that shows up because you’re not walking your dog enough. When your dog is hyperactive, your dog won’t be able to calm down or relax. That is something you don’t want for your dog – and it can make life more stressful for you too.
Mental Stimulation is important to remember and provide for your dog. Also, make sure you take a look at these 5 Mistakes You are Making on Walks as you might unknowingly be making these mistakes, which can make walking your dog even harder.
These mistakes are something to keep in mind when walking your dog, in addition to the things I am sharing in this blog post.
Ready to have a great experience at the dog park?
- Learn what your dog may or may not like about the dog park
- What to bring with you
- How long you should stay
- The mistake you might be unknowingly making that’s affecting your dog’s experience
- The dog park app I use and recommend
As soon as you open the front door you are out in the big wide world even if it’s just your neighborhood. This may seem like a typical experience but walking your dog gives your dog another chance to work on socialization.
Seeing people, kids, dogs, and cats as well as hearing the noise from the garbage truck can all happen just walking down the street. It might not seem like such a big deal as you may have already socialized your dog to these things before, but that does not necessarily mean your dog is still fine with those things.
Walking your dog gives you continual opportunities to socialize your dog with different things. In turn, this will help your dog see those things as being positive, as well as provide feedback on whether you need to do more socialization when it comes to certain things or people.
When it comes to socializing your dog, being aware of what your dog can/cannot handle while walking to help your dog feel better about various things/people is vital.
Every positive experience and interaction your dog has, combined with your unwavering support will give your dog more confidence.
Also knowing how to choose and use treats in training your dog will be very helpful when it comes to keeping those social interactions positive.
Likewise, taking your dog on a different route or location when walking your dog provides further opportunities to provide your dog with new experiences in different environments.
If your dog doesn’t get enough socialization through avenues like walking, etc. behavioral problems can develop.
For example, your dog may become fearful due to not having been exposed to a wide variety of people, animals, and environments. This fear could be displayed in symptoms like trembling, panting, or cowering.
Separation Anxiety is another possible behavioral issue that may develop. This could lead to excessive barking, destroying furniture, or other destructive behaviors that could result in them hurting themselves as well.
A dog that hasn’t received adequate socialization may bark excessively when seeing a new person, animal, or situation and this could leave you confused as to why that is happening – as well as make dog ownership less enjoyable.
Hyperactivity is another problem that can occur if your dog hasn’t been socialized well. This can contribute to your dog not being able to relax and settle down. It can be particularly noticeable when you have people over to your house.
Not socializing your dog adequately can also lead to possessiveness like resource guarding of their food, toys, or other things that have not been shown (through socialization) as something a human can be around or touch.
#4 Training Opportunities
Walking your dog gives you a chance to work on basic obedience like sit, down, or heel in different locations with varying distractions and distances.
This will help your dog learn that those cues are great to obey everywhere you guys go together. And you will feel so proud of your dog. Therefore, use walking your dog as an extra opportunity to build on and reinforce those dog obedience skills.
Working on loose leash walking is something a walk can provide for both of you. If your dog pulls on the leash then using training techniques that have been shown to you by a professional dog trainer while walking your dog can help to stop this common behavior.
It can be easy to think that once your dog has mastered walking on a leash well and giving you a nice sit before crossing the street your work is done. However, those great actions that your dog displays need to keep being reinforced on walks.
Letting your dog pull a little rather than making your dog stick with properly walking on a leash can slowly lead to more pulling and regression to full-on leash pulling.
The practice of continuing to train your dog while walking your dog helps you and your dog enjoy that time together. It also provides opportunities for you to learn which areas need further improvement, so you can work on them. This will benefit you and your dog in the long run.
One thing to remember while training your dog on your walks is to make it fun and not be serious as that will help you both.
When your dog doesn’t get enough training opportunities, some of the behaviors that I mentioned earlier such as barking, destructive behavior, hyperactivity, and separation anxiety will surface.
Also, other behaviors like pulling on the leash will continue to occur. This is not only unpleasant but could also be downright dangerous for both of you.
Walking your dog gives you a chance to keep working on that special bond that most dog owners want to build with their dog.
The exercise and physical contact that you get on walks deepens your bond, which in turn makes you want to go on more walks with your dog. That’s the power of positive reinforcement.
Also, when walking your dog you build memories that you will enjoy for a lifetime. You can look back and remember the walks you took on the beach, the hikes you went on, etc. So grab your camera and capture those moments!
Another way to bond with your dog while walking your dog is through play. You can play games, like a quick sprint together, or you can bring a toy to play with your dog on walks. Play can help build your dog’s confidence and strengthen your bond while putting a smile on your face.
Walking your dog can be a chance to bond and give you quality time. It’s a time to not look at your phone or computer screen, but focus all your attention on your dog.
It gives you time away from life’s daily distractions while creating the trust, routine, and companionship you’ve always wanted with your dog.
My blog post on the Three ways to have a better bond with your dog will give you some more things to think about when it comes to that special bond you want with your dog.
As an added bonus, being able to bond on walks with your dog can help you to notice things about your dog on your walk like limping, upset stomach, and other things you may not realize while you’re in the house.
This can allow you to be proactive by either monitoring your dog and/or calling your veterinarian to make an appointment. As a pet care professional, I’m a big believer in being proactive and saving yourself money, stress, and heart ache.
Dog Walking Facts
Now you’ve got a good understanding of the 5 Reasons Why Dogs Need Walks. But did you know that walking your dog has benefits for you too?
Research has shown that people who walk their dogs are more likely to reach the national recommendations for medium to vigorous physical activity. This is because dogs act as social support by being exercise buddies, aka accountability partners. Walking with a dog also increases feelings of safety while walking, particularly in women.
What’s more, the relationship you have with your dog may optimize your health even more than walking alone – or with a person. For instance, walking with your dog provides an even greater buffer against stress than walking without your dog.
Research also shows that there are fewer obese dog walkers compared to dog owners who don’t walk their dogs.
Do Dogs Need Days Off from Walking?
That depends on your dog and what is going on with him/her. If your dog had surgery or hurt a leg or paw then that could be a valid reason to take a day off from walking.
Are There Times When Not to Walk Your Dog?
There could be a number of times not to walk your dog, such as medical, or weather-based, to name a few. If your veterinarian is telling you to not take your dog on a walk then that would be something to pay attention to.
Do Dogs Need to Be Walked If They Have a Yard?
I can understand the convenience of using your yard to help your dog to go the bathroom, but I would still encourage you to take your dog on a walk. This can give you another way to get your dog to go to the bathroom as well as work on training and the other things I mentioned in this blog post.
That is unless other factors such as weather, medical, or another extraneous circumstance where using your yard instead of going on a walk would be a temporary option.
Final Thoughts on 5 Reasons Why Dogs Need Walks
Walking your dog provides not only an opportunity to build a great relationship with your dog, but also provides the opportunity to work on training, and socialization while improving the health of you and your dog.
Not walking your dog can lead to your dog developing a variety of physical and emotional issues, as well as your dog not being comfortable in various situations and surroundings. And as a pet care professional, that’s something I don’t want you to experience.
One thing that can get you on the right path when it comes to walking your dog is my Dog Walks Supplies Checklist. This handy checklist shows you what you need to make your dog walking experience more enjoyable. Having the right supplies can be a simple step in the right direction when it comes to walking your dog.