Why You Should Walk the Dog
Do you dread taking your dog for a walk every day?
I know many dog owners who hate taking their dog for a walk. In fact some hate it so much, they don't do it at all. They view it as a chore that can easily be skipped or replaced with more important tasks. I often hear people talking about how the dog can play in the backyard for exercise while they get other things done.
What they don't realize is just how important it is to take your dog for a walk every day. It's an activity that yields many rewards for both dog and owner.
Don't believe me? Read on and find out just what you and your dog are missing out on!
I'll start with the obvious one, exercise.
Your dog needs exercise every day to stay healthy. More often than not, walks are the most effective way to get your dog up and moving. Most dogs won't use their time in the backyard to run and play by themselves. They need some kind of motivation, someone to toss a ball for them or another dog to wrestle around with.
This is why just putting the dog in the backyard usually doesn't cut it. If you're not outside playing with him, how can you be sure he's getting exercise out there? For all you know, he's curled up and fast asleep.
Taking your dog for a walk ensures that he's moving consistently for the entire duration of the walk. And not only is it good exercise for your dog, but it's a good way to get in some exercise for yourself, too!
Try pairing up with a friend or a neighbor for your daily walks. Having someone else along to chat with makes the walk much more fun, and it the time will seem to pass faster than if you were alone.
Plus, planning the walk with someone else will give you more reason not to skip it. You can both help to hold each other accountable for going every single day. It's easy to give yourself an excuse for why you're skipping out. But it's even harder to offer up excuses to someone else, especially when you have an agreement to keep each other from canceling.
It's important for your dog's mental well being to socialize with other people and animals. A walk is the perfect time for that to happen. You will likely encounter other people and dogs while you're out. Stop and let the dogs meet each other. Take this opportunity to say "hello" to your neighbors while you're passing by. You might even make a few new friends!
Socialization on some level is very important. How would you feel if you were cooped up in your house all the time, without ever going out? This is how your dog feels when he doesn't get his walks. Having the chance to get out is extremely important.
Dogs need structure to be functional members of a family. They need rules, consequences, and routines. A daily walk is a great way to help establish and maintain a routine. If you take your walk around the same time every day, your dog begins to expect it. Just like he expects his breakfast in the morning, and his dinner at night. Just like he expects to be let outside at certain times to potty.
Dinner and potty time are important for your dog's daily survival and well being. Teaching your dog to expect to perform those activities at certain times establishes routine, and prevents him from having to wonder. If your dog doesn't know when he'll be let outside again, he may potty in the house instead of waiting to be let out. If he doesn't know when to expect his next meal, he might resort to eating something he's not supposed to.
Exercise is the same way for dogs. If he doesn't know when to expect a walk, he will burn his extra energy however he can. This often leads to your dog running crazily around the house, or even chewing on furniture.
I pair my walk time with training time. It's a wonderful opportunity to get my dog out and expose her to different situations she isn't normally in for training purposes. Giving common commands like "sit," "stay," and "come" with distractions around helps to enforce your dog's training.
Also, frequent exposure to different kinds of distractions ensures that you can teach your dog the proper way to react in those situations. So you don't have to worry about your dog freaking out when he comes across a new situation, because he's learned how to act in that case.
Repetition and consistency are critically important when training a dog. So why not take advantage of your time on walks by throwing some learning in the mix?
Be careful where you go while you have your dog with you. While mailing a letter or returning a rented movie might be fine, the grocery store is a different story. Consider the fact that many places of business won't allow you to bring a dog in with you. And, for the record, I don't recommend tying your dog up and leaving him unattended outside while you run in the store. Many people do this often, but there are any number of bad things that can happen as a result.
Here's another way to multi-task while you're on a walk. How about getting your errands done? If you live in close proximity to any place where you have business (mailing a letter, returning a movie rental), this is the perfect time to get it done. It's a great excuse for you and your dog to get out and walk there.
Some people use the errand as the excuse to walk the dog. Some people enjoy their daily walk more when they have a specific destination to get to, or a particular task to complete while on the walk. It makes the walk seem much more important, and you are much more likely to get out and go if there's a reason other than the walk itself.
Or what about taking this time to listen to that audio book that you haven't found time for, otherwise. Make it a habit, listen to a new chapter or two every day while out on a walk with the dog.
Make Walks A Little Easier
One of the big reasons why people hate taking their dog for a walk is because it's just too difficult. If you have a dog that constantly pulls on the leash, a walk can quickly become exhausting! I had this problem with my dog for a long time before I finally learned how to leash-train her. If you have this problem, try taking some time out to get your dog leash trained. Take some classes or use an online tutorial as a guide. Making sure your dog is properly leash trained will make walks much more enjoyable in the future!