January is national Walk Your Dog Month, and we think that’s something to celebrate! Despite the colder temperatures and shorter daylight hours that come with this time of year, there are still many benefits to getting in a daily walk with your dog. Whether it’s for twenty minutes or two hours, a little fresh air and exercise can really improve both you and your dog’s health. So bundle up, grab some hot coffee and hit the trails. Your dog will thank you later!
A simple, brisk walk once a day with your dog has a plethora of benefits for your furry friend’s physical health. Walking helps keep your dog in shape by burning calories and building muscle so your pup won’t pack on the pounds. Walking also helps your dog’s joints stay healthy as keeping active improves the bone’s function and strength. This can be especially good for older pups who might be more sedentary than they used to be. Keeping to a routine during your daily walk can also benefit your dog’s digestive and urinary health. Regular walks help to stimulate the digestive tract and can make your dog ‘go’ when he might not otherwise on his own. This will prevent constipation and get your dog on a regular schedule for his potty breaks. Dogs also tend to continually mark while they’re outside and therefore will empty their bladders more regularly on walks. This will help to stop urinary tract infections and keep your dog’s overall anatomy healthy!
To you, a walk around the block might just be a walk around the block. To your dog, however, a walk is an exciting and stimulating adventure. Dogs don’t like to be bored and often times, pent up boredom and frustration is released through destructive behavior such as chewing on the couch or rummaging through the garbage. Taking your pup for that walk around the block is great for their mental health because it keeps their brain active and gives them plenty of things to see, sniff, and experience. Watching wildlife, meeting people and other dogs, exploring new paths and walkways, smelling the grass; these are all things that keep your dog’s mind healthy and alleviates boredom and frustration. You might just find that after your daily walks, your dog is also much calmer and therefore, much less likely to be destructive. Plus, if your dog is calm and relaxed, you’ll be calm and relaxed as well!
It’s true that going for a walk is like taking your dog on a mini adventure, but it’s also true that walking the same trails over and over again can get boring for your pup. A great way to shake things up as well as improve the bond between you and your dog is to make walking a learning opportunity. Even if your canine companion already knows basic commands like heel, sit, stay and down, you might find practicing these commands more challenging in an over-stimulating, outside environment. If your dog is a super pro, you can make things more interesting by stacking commands or learning a new trick all together. On top of the sights, sounds and distracting environment, this is a sure way to wear your dog out mentally and to keep those daily walks exciting and unpredictable for them. Plus, rewarding your dog for a job well done reinforces their desire to learn and strengthens their bond with you and your walkie time!
Taking your dog our for a daily walk is a great opportunity for them to socialize! While out and about, it’s very likely that you and your pup are going to bump into other people and dogs who want to interact and play. Whether it’s a quick and simple meet-and-greet with a few butt sniffs or a whole puppy playdate, interacting with other friendly dogs and humans is great way for your pup to learn proper behavior and socialization skills. Dogs that interact and play well with other dogs are more well-rounded and calm and can have healthy and happy relationships with others around them. This means less stress on future walks and less stranger-danger fear or leash aggression. Positively associating walks with meeting and playing with friends is also a great way to keep your dog motivated and ready to exercise. It’s a win-win!
We know it can get cold out there and some days, snuggling up and staying inside might be just what you need. However, making an effort to get you and your dog out for a walk as much as possible can do wonders for your physical, mental and emotional health. Your dog will get great exercise as well as a chance to socialize and explore, and you’ll love the fresh air and time spent with your precious pup. January might be labeled as the month to celebrate walking your pet, but we think it’s never a bad time for a walk!