Did you realize that a tired dog is a good dog?  What better way to tire your pup out then a daily dose of walking? Walking with your best friend is a heart healthy benefit for you and especially your dog.  Too many dogs don’t get the necessary exercise to keep them physically and mentally happy. Same goes for the human at the other end of the leash!  If you are sedentary,  your dog is probably, too.  Once you start a healthy exercise program for you and your pup,  the benefits for both of you will be ten-fold.  Therefore, get those endorphins flowing and release the good feelings for both you and Fido.

The Right Equipment

Dog with a leash

Size matters!  Yes, we are talking about a dog harness.  Properly fitting your dog with the correct sized harness is key to a pleasant walk.  Front fitting harnesses are excellent for strong pullers.  If your dog is a bit more laid back and wants to stop and smell the flowers, a harness with a back clip will work.  There are multiple options for outfitting your pup.  Of course, equally important is a collar with identification.  Just in case a rogue killer squirrel crosses your path and your dog takes off (and you’d rather keep your arm in it’s socket), it’s vital to have your pet information on your dog.  Leashes come in a wide variety of length, width and material. Most experts will agree that keeping your dog close to you will give you better control and keep your dog away from killer squirrels. Plan a trip to your local pet store and have them help you outfit your dog with the best gear. P.S.  Don’t forget the dog water bottle to keep your pup happy and hydrated along the way!

Let’s Be Friends

Dogs walking together on a leash

Finding a dog walking group or even a neighbor with a well-behaved pooch, will make the daily walks fun and interesting.  Pet parents get to swap their latest dog stories and your pet gets his own best friend to sniff with.  When you do hit the pavement with your dog, avoid taking the same walking route every day.  It will be mentally stimulating if your dog experiences different environments including off the beaten path, sidewalks and even trails. The benefits of your dog learning how to walk in a pack environment can be seen in many other areas of life. By understanding the body language of the dog approaching them, your dog is less likely to be aggressive to other dogs being walked nearby. Subsequently, they are also more likely to be well-behaved with children and other small animals, such as cats.

Bonding Time

Dog bonding with owner on a walk

To help create a strong bond with your dog, walking is the best way to do that. This is quality time spent together. Talking to your dog during the walk and giving praise (whether it’s a pat on the head, scratch on the back or even a small treat) will strengthen your connection.  You can never praise your dog too much. They are sponges just waiting to soak up all your good energy. Love comes naturally to a dog, but a bond is something that a pet parent needs to cultivate.  You want your dog to respond to your commands and walking with leadership will allow that bond to form.  Your dog looks to you for guidance.  Be the Super Hero that your dog knows you are!

Unpleasantly Plump

Walking a dog and getting exercise

Pet obesity is at an all-time high in the United States. Nearly 2/3 of dogs are overweight.  What’s worse is that 76% of pet owners think their dog is “curvy” not obese.  Golden Retrievers and Labradors are the two dog breeds that are considered high-risk for obesity.  These are also the two most popular dogs.  “Houston, we have a problem here.” One factor that exacerbates pet obesity is that pet weight is harder to lose.  One pound lost for a dog is the equivalent to five human pounds. That means that each pound lost will be gradual and significant. Several studies suggest that pet obesity may be linked to human obesity. If an owner overeats, they are likely to provide the same level of food to their pet.  Time to leash up and get out there for a minimum of 30 minutes every day.  Your doctor and your dog’s veterinarian thank you in advance.

Family Time

Family dog walking

Whether it’s a walk around the block with the kids or heading to the local trail for a forest romp, bring the whole family along.  It’s a great time to bond with humans and canines.  Let kids take charge and give them the responsibility for holding the leash and inevitably picking up the doggy poo.  (Don’t forget the doggie waste bags).  Spending time with the whole pack is essential for your four-legged friend. Teaching the kids that dog ownership brings with it certain responsibilities.  Start ’em early and you will have a whole pack of happy and healthy well-adjusted kids and dogs!