Can’t my dog get all of those benefits with a good run around the yard?
There are plenty of benefits to walking that go beyond physical health including:
Mental Health. Dogs do not like to be bored and if you give them something constructive to do, like taking a walk, they may be less likely to do something destructive, like chewing the couch. Walking exercises the mind as well as the body. Watching wildlife, exploring new paths, seeing other people with their pets, and so on, are great mental stimulation for your dog that he just cannot get in the same fenced area all the time. Walking also releases excess energy and helps dogs sleep better at night.
Emotional Health. You are the center of your dog’s universe and he craves your attention. What better way to spend quality time with your dog than taking a walk? Spending one-on-one time with your dog will deepen your bond and help deter annoying, attention- seeking behaviors such as excessive barking or whining.
Personal Health. Many people need outside motivation to work out, and may depend on an exercise buddy to get them off the couch. What happens when your exercise partner gets stuck at work or stuck in traffic or has another commitment? Your dog is only committed to one thing… you! That makes him the perfect exercise partner. He is always available and willing to accompany you on a walk.
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Walking Helps with Your Dog’s Socialization
While out walking, your pooch is most likely going to meet other dogs. This is a great opportunity to help your dog learn acceptable ways of socially interacting with new animals. It will also help build doggy confidence so your pet will be less afraid to make friends. If your dog does show fear, taking them to a training class is a great way of removing that anxiety in a more controlled environment. Well-socialized pups still like a bit of rough-and-tumble play with other dogs when out for a walk, but they’ll know when to stop and will come away without any battle scars. Walking your dog and exposing him or her to different dogs, people, and situations is a win for everyone.
Ask Dr. Nandi: The health benefits of walking your dog
We all know that our dogs need walks. They need exercise, as well as mental stimulation, to be content and stable. Of course, it doesn’t hurt us to get some outdoor physical exercise, as well. So every day, we leash our dogs up and hit the pavement or the trail. But it isn’t just our sense of responsible dog ownership and the health benefits that get us (and keep us) walking. A small study by a researcher at the University of Liverpool found that a prime motivation for walking our dogs is that it makes us happy. And why does it make us happy? Because we believe it makes our dogs happy, too.