1. Your Dog’s Weight Management
Making sure your dog maintains a healthy weight is one of the most important things you can do for their overall health.
Obesity can lead to a wide range of health problems, including diabetes, heart and respiratory conditions, mobility issues, and even shortened lifespans. In addition to this obese dogs are more likely to develop behavioural issues due to limited mobility and health.
Daily walks are essential to maintain a healthy weight and burn off excess calories. It’s good for our weight management too.
2. Your Dog’s Joint Health
Excess weight puts extra pressure on your dog’s joints, which can worsen joint issues and lead to pain and discomfort. If your dog is inactive, their joints can also become stiff and contribute to mobility issues.
Daily walks help combat these problems by keeping your dogs joints and muscles active. This helps improve their mobility and flexibility, decreasing the chance of painful joint issues as they age.
3. Regulates Your Dog’s Digestive System
Walking your dog regularly provides structure to their bathroom schedule. This helps keep their digestive system in check and can prevent issues like constipation and diarrhea.
4. Mental Enrichment
Mental enrichment is just as important as physical exercise. A daily walking routine helps reduce stress, builds your dog’s confidence, and stimulates their brain.
Walking also allows your dog to explore new areas, letting their nose lead them with plenty of exploration and sniffing time. This has a natural calming effect, and helps maintain your dogs overall emotional balance.
5. Appropriate Socialization
Experiencing new people, dogs, sights, sounds, and smells on a walk can help your dog become more confident in strange situations. Matching this with calm positive association to these, your dog will learn to be comfortable in new environments by interacting with strangers and other dogs, which will help them stay relaxed with unfamiliar company throughout their life.
How to Make Your Dog’s Walks More Fun
Go for a Sniff Walk
For many pet parents, walks become a structured activity with a well-established route so that your dog gets enough exercise and is able to go to the bathroom. While some walks can still be this structured, going for a “sniff walk” can offer your dog more opportunities for mental enrichment.
A sniffari (as I like to call it) is a slower-paced walk that is more focused on giving your dog opportunities to sniff their surroundings than on reaching a particular destination. These walks let your dog lead with their nose, so they can explore their surroundings.
Sniffing gives your dog mental enrichment, and it also provides natural stress relief, lowering their pulse rate and releasing dopamine to boost your dogs mood.
While you may walk a shorter distance on these types of walks, a 20–30-minute sniff walk can leave your dog feeling just as tired and fulfilled as if they’d taken their usual hour-long walk.
You can also turn your dog’s walks into a nose work activity. Consider sprinkling a handful of treats into a nearby grassy area during your walk. This forces your dog to use their nose to find the hidden treats.
Change Your Dog’s Usual Route
While walking the same route every day may be convenient, it can get boring for your dog.
Much of what your dog enjoys about a walk is their chance to experience new sights and smells, but when you repeat the same path every day, they’ll grow disinterested in seeing and smelling the same things over and over again.
Incorporate Training Sessions into Your Walk
If your dog craves a challenge and loves to learn, turning your walks into training sessions can be the perfect way to make things more interesting.
Training is a great enrichment activity, offering mental stimulation as well as their usual physical exercise. You can periodically stop along your route to practice skills your dog already knows like “sit” and “stay,” or you can work on building new skills.
Impulse control is a great training option for your daily walk because it also has safety benefits. Whether your dog loves to pick up random items from the sidewalk or they have a hard time saying no to the squirrels, working on impulse control can help make your future walks more enjoyable.
Make the Most of Your Dog’s Walks
Your dog’s walks don’t need to be a boring routine they can be fun, exciting bonding opportunities for you and your dog. It’s also very important for you to enjoy them as well.
Set aside 30 minutes to an hour every day, depending on your dog’s health and energy levels. This time can be spent outside with your pup, exploring your neighborhood, visiting a local trail, or learning a new trick.
By doing everything you can to help your dog reach their mental and physical energy requirements, you can become more than just an owner to your dog.