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The Complete Guide to Dog Walking

The Complete Guide to Dog Walking

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The Benefits of Walking Your Dog

Walking your dog every day has a number of health benefits, such as physical and mental stimulation. If you have been a dog owner for a while, you probably know that dogs don’t do too well when being cooped up indoors for a long time.

They can develop destructive tendencies, can get bored, and might even suffer from depression if their pet parents don’t take them out for a walk once or twice a day.

Why Walk Your Dog?

If you are lucky enough to live in a house and you have a yard where your dog can sit and play all day, you might be tempted to think that walks are completely unnecessary. That is false.

Pets need a lot of outdoor exposure, both because it assists their bodies in producing vitamin D, but also because they get to experience the world around them.

Our four-legged friends are genetically engineered to spend as much time in nature as possible. Walking your dog for just 30 minutes per day can make a huge difference, especially in terms of training.

Besides, walking your dog regularly will help your pup become acquainted with other animals in your neighborhood and their surroundings in general.

Your veterinarian can tell you that a dog’s mental health can be maintained properly if they get enough exercise. And what do you know? Even walking is an important exercise, particularly for an otherwise sedentary animal that tends to spend a lot of time indoors.

The Health Benefits of Walking Your Dog

It helps create a healthy routine

It might seem like walking your dog might be a challenge as you will have to train them to walk on a leash, listen to you when you tell them to avoid running around, or worse, sample anything on the sidewalk with their mouth.

But the truth is that daily walks and being out with your dog can make a world of difference when it comes to training your dog on how to behave. They will come across many other new things, they’ll learn to explore their environment, and they’ll also lower their stress levels naturally.

Plus, everyone knows that potty training a dog can be challenging. Unfortunately, it is highly advised that you keep your pup indoors until they have completed their vaccination plan. But once they have, you should begin taking them out at least twice a day — once in the morning and once in the afternoon or evening.

Your dog will become accustomed to this schedule and they will ‘hold it in’ until you take them out. You’ll both avoid cleanups from accidents in your home and also save money on pee pads.

The Complete Guide to Dog Walking

It helps your pet to maintain a healthy weight

There are several reasons why your pooch might become overweight or obese. One of them is the sedentary lifestyle that most people lead nowadays. They rarely engage in physical exercise, so they will accidentally practice the same habits with their dogs.

Dogs are made to run, and some breeds (especially hunting ones) can get extremely anxious and restless when being kept indoors for a long time.

On top of that, many commercial dog foods today contain grains and other ingredients that effectively make your pooch put on weight. A too high caloric intake and not enough exercise can lead to obesity.

It is estimated that approximately half of all dogs in North America are overweight or borderline obese. Needless to say, obesity is a serious health complication as it can easily lead to other diseases, such as metabolic disorders (diabetes).

Walking your dog helps you bond with them

Your canine friend craves your presence every day, and that’s because you’re both the ‘leader of the pack’ and their most important person. They depend on you to feed them and clean them, but they also need you to interact with them and give them your affection.

Pet owners should know that walking their dog can lead to a strong and almost indestructible bond. Your dog will learn to protect you and listen to your commands, so spending more time walking your pet has nothing but benefits.

It also offers your dog the mental stimulation that they need every day. Besides, it helps with socialization. Making friends is paramount for dogs as they will be less likely to be fearful of other animals.

The Complete Guide to Dog Walking

It prevents constipation and urinary tract problems

Walking is healthy for people and dogs alike. Did you know that by walking just one to two hours a day, you will be able to regulate your digestion and not have problems with constipation anymore? This is just as true in your pet’s case.

If your dog has been experiencing digestive distress in the form of constipation, which can be quite common if you tend to feed them only kibble, walking them for a longer time every day can improve their digestion.

As for urinary tract problems, they, too, can be prevented by taking daily walks. A well-behaved and trained dog will ‘go’ according to your schedule. Unfortunately, having that urine in their bladder for so many hours can easily cause infections.

It prevents joint health problems

Walking your pet twice a day for at least 30 minutes each can prevent obesity. All that excess weight puts a lot of pressure on your dog’s joints, which means that they are more likely to develop arthritis when they become older.

Giving your dog hip and joint chews can undoubtedly improve their flexibility, but nothing beats physical exercise when it comes to preventing musculoskeletal health issues.

Senior dogs might have a harder time walking for a long time, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t adjust your schedule and add shorter walks to it.

Does Walking Your Dog Count as Exercise?

While the golden rule is to spend at least 30 minutes per day outside walking your dog, that’s just not enough. Dogs need more exercise compared to people and that’s because some of them are even specialized breeds, so they are effectively made for running and exploring new sights and new smells.

For this reason, we suggest that you create a plan where you take your dog out for a hike every weekend or at least to a park where they can be free and run around as they wish.

Of course, you always have to keep an eye on what your pet is doing, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t offer them additional entertainment opportunities. If you have a yard, you can play fetch with your dog right in the comfort of your home, but you should do that besides the regular walks you take with them every day.

Is a 20-Minute Walk Enough For A Dog?

Just one 20-minute walk per day is not enough for a dog, especially if they’re a breed like the Irish Setter, for instance.

It might sound like a hassle for you to walk your dog for 20 minutes in the morning and then 20 minutes in the evening when you come back tired from work. But the truth is that dogs might need even more physical stimulation than that.

If you have the time, we strongly suggest that you aim at 60 to 80 minutes of walking per day. Any trainer or veterinarian can tell you that longer walks can prevent disease and also improve your dog’s mood and behavior on the whole.

The Complete Guide to Dog Walking

What Should You Not Do When Walking Your Dog?

First of all, you should avoid walking your dog in inclement weather whether in extreme heat or cold. If your dog is already suffering from certain chronic conditions such as kidney or liver disease, they might not only not get the benefits of such a walk, but they might become even sicker.

Water is extremely important, so you should avoid pet dehydration by taking a bottle with you and a collapsible bowl.

Try not to walk the same route every day as it can be less stimulating and also boring for dogs. Pets love exploring new surroundings. You don’t have to go out of your way and take your dog to the other side of town — just walk your pooch behind your house instead of in front of it.

Try to pay attention to your dog, so avoid zoning out or talking on the phone. Even if you have the end of the leash in your hand at all times, your pet might swallow inappropriate things when you aren’t looking.

Dog owners should also use the right kind of equipment. If you have tried time and again to leash train, your canine friend and they don’t seem to be comfortable in a collar, just get a perfectly sized harness.

Do Dogs Get Sad If You Don’t Walk Them?

The short answer to this question is yes. If you do not take your dog out for walks regularly, you will inadvertently cause them stress and anxiety.

If they’re less accustomed to the outdoors, they’ll associate potentially stressful events such as going to the vet clinic with extreme dangers, so they will be very fearful.

Sadness is not the only emotion that dogs feel when they don’t get to explore the world around them enough. They can also become frustrated and bored, so they might start chewing on everything around the house. That doesn’t mean that they aren’t well-behaved — they just don’t get to enjoy the benefit of a walk every day.

What Is the Normal Rate for Dog Walking Services?

It depends on where you live. In the United States, you should expect to pay around $20 to $30 for a 30-minute walk.

If you leave on vacation for a week, the cost of a walker for that period should be around $400 for the whole seven days (two walks per day).

The Complete Guide to Dog Walking

Is a Dog Walker Worth It?

If you spend a lot of time away from home every day, hiring someone to walk your pet when you’re out and about can provide your pooch with a lot of medical and mental benefits.

As expensive as dog walking might seem, the truth is that it can make a considerable difference when it comes to maintaining your dog’s health.

Finding a dog walker online isn’t really difficult these days as there are many local groups on social media that you can check out and even look at the reviews that other owners have written about certain professionals.

There’s even a site called Rover.com where you can sift through various dog walkers in your specific region and pick the one that best suits your needs and schedule.

Alpha Paw Sale
author image

Dr. Christina Vulpe, DVM

Member of Alpha Paw’s Board of Pet Experts

Dr. Cristina Vulpe is a board-certified small animal veterinarian. She earned her veterinary degree in 2011 from USAMV in Iasi, Romania, and her PhD in Canine Oncology in 2015 from USAMV in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. She is passionate about anything from animal nutrition & welfare to veterinary parasitology & infectious diseases. As a responsible pet parent herself, she enjoys giving reliable medical advice that pet owners can trust, which is why she joined Alpha Paw’s Board of Pet Experts on our mission to help our readers give their pets the happy & healthy lives they deserve.

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