-by Jane Langlois
October 1st through 7th is National Walk Your Dog Week. Colleen Paige, Celebrity Pet Lifestyle Expert and Animal Behaviorist, created this event in 2010 to help promote the health of both people and their dogs. Some pet parents make the mistake of assuming that if a dog has access to a yard, he or she is getting plenty of exercise. But your dog doesn’t run laps by himself in your yard, or do much of anything besides waiting for you to come outside or let him back in. It’s the interaction with you that counts! Walking your pooch for just 30 minutes each day improves you and your pup’s cardiovascular health and increases endorphins. Not only will walking your pooch keep both of you physically fit, but it also wards off high cholesterol and high blood pressure. At the end of the walk, you and your pooch will feel healthy, refreshed, and confidant.
There is a huge side benefit to walking daily with your pup. It’s a great way to help him or her get rid of excess energy and reduce anxiety. In the old days, dogs had a job and worked alongside their people. They were bred for a particular purpose, like hunting, herding livestock or providing protection. Today, our dogs no longer have to earn their keep, and, instead, have to adjust to our more sedentary lifestyles. They get their food poured in a bowl and are often confined, alone and inactive, most of the day. This lack of purpose leaves dogs no outlet for their naturally active tendencies, physical and mental, and it contributes to the development of behavior problems. Studies have shown that many dogs in shelters and on the streets are there mainly due to a lack of exercise, which resulted in serious behavior issues such as aggression, destruction, and separation anxiety issues. Dogs can be like young children. If you don’t give them something constructive to do with their energy, they’ll find something to do on their own, and you may not like it!
Going on a walk with your dog will give you a chance to sneak in some useful training lessons. Walking together will strengthen your bond, leading to a strong, trusting relationship. Your pup will be easier to manage and you’ll both feel more at ease with each other. While you’re on your walk, your dog will become familiar with all the sights and sounds of the neighborhood by meeting people, dogs, and other creatures. Switch up your walking route every once in a while so your pooch can have different encounters leading to less nervousness in the future. Doggie parents love talking to other doggie parents, so walking your canine gives you an opportunity to meet new people too! Plus, your neighbors or new friends will be more likely to recognize your four-legged friend in case he or she ever gets lost.
October is a beautiful time of year to get outside and enjoy the weather. So take the challenge this week and walk your dog for 7 days. When you do something every day, you begin to build it into your schedule as a priority. It’s a wonderful feeling knowing that something as simple as a walk, can bring so much happiness to your four-legged friend and so many health benefits to you both!