Written by Jonathan Rodin
For some dogs, a short walk and sniff down the road isn’t enough. Most dogs are incredibly athletic and require physical stimulation in addition to, or to supplement, mental stimulation. Although exercise needs are based on a dog’s age, breed, size and overall health, dogs should spend anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours exercising every day.
The benefits of giving your dog the right amount of exercise are very similar to those felt in humans. Adequate exercise enriches the well-being of dogs and owners alike, and destructive behaviours such as chewing seemingly disappear as the physical activity, sights, sounds and smells provide the appropriate stimulation your pets need.
Breeds in the hunting, working, or herding groups, such as Labrador retrievers, hounds, terriers, collies and shepherds, will need the most exercise. Although most dogs are a mixture, even the presence of one of these breeds in their gene pool could mean that they have an abundance of energy they need to expel.
Your dog’s fitness levels may surprise you and probably even surpass your own. According to online magazine Runner’s World, some dogs aren’t meant to merely stroll the city blocks. They crave long adventures on the mountain terrain, and under the right conditions and supervision, it will do them no harm.
Besides, for all the benefits walks can have for dogs, owners should see this as a good incentive to exercise themselves. Unfortunately (most) dogs are not able to take themselves for a walk, but this should not be an excuse, but rather a reason to get out there. The exercise will reduce stress and build cardiovascular and muscular strength. In addition to the physical benefits, it helps your dog build an emotional bond with whoever is the designated walker. This is positive as dogs require this human bond. They are man’s best friend after all.
The biggest problem modern-day dog owners face is that their demanding work schedules do not leave enough time or energy at the end of the day to meet the needs of their beloved pets. Fortunately, dog walking is becoming an ever-growing profession but it’s important to use a walker who is experienced and understands the needs of each dog, as they differ. They will love you for it; and if they tend to be destructive, a daily walk should soon fix this. In addition to helping with destructive behaviour, obesity in pets is associated with a number of medical complaints, including osteoarthritis, cardiovascular disease, liver disease and insulin resistance. By ensuring a daily walk, pet owners set themselves up to potentially save a lot of money on hefty vet bills.
A walk is so much more than just a walk. It’s training, exercise and socialising, and it should be regular, taken seriously and customised to suit your dog’s needs. Therefore, it’s the owner’s responsibility to ensure that their dog’s needs are met, and if this is the case, owners will soon notice positive changes in behaviour. Walking should not be an event for your dog, but rather a part of its routine. In this way, it can be practised and perfected so that each participant is enjoying themselves. It’s time to get those paws walking!