Commitment to Care: Walking is more than physical exercise

Did you know that walking your dog is one of the best ways to keep him or her happy and healthy?  It helps maintain their weight, keeps their muscle mass at an optimum level and their joints moving freely.  Walking provides much more than just physical activity for pets.   A dog that is walked frequently will also get the benefit of much needed mental stimulation and social activity and in many cases exposure to beneficial training activities.

Mental stimulation has been proven positive for your dog’s overall health.  Running and playing in the same fenced back yard is fun, but it does not do much to stimulate your dog’s active mind.  Dogs need to get out and be exposed to different experiences, people, and other animals.  If your dog is having bad behavior issues, such as chewing things up, digging holes, or just making you crazy, there is a good chance your dog is bored and needs some mental stimulation.

You are probably thinking “but I give him mental stimulation”.  When it comes down to it though, it may not be enough to fully satisfy your dog’s needs.  I can relate to this through my own experience with my own dogs. They were marking around the house, digging in the back yard; they even started to fight with each other even though they play together happily most of the time.

The answer for me came with a daily walk of at least 30 minutes, this one small change helped tremendously with all of the bad behavior.  I have also learned and told clients “A tired dog is a good dog”.  My dogs and I now look forward to our walks and they will literally get their leashes and tell me it is time to go.  It’s a way for me and them to unwind at the end of the day.

Social activity is another essential aspect of your dog’s overall health. Dogs, by nature, enjoy being active and instinctively revert back to their ancestral heritage of hunting or herding livestock. They need the stimulation of seeing other animals and people.  Imagine how you would feel if you had to stay in the same place and see the same people day after day, you would most likely go stir crazy and start acquiring feelings of boredom and depression.

In nature wild dogs will always have a leader of the pack, someone who they trust and adore. Walking daily with your pet will strengthen the bond with your dog and teach him or her that you are someone they need to look toward for direction, eventually this will become their normal behavior in everyday life. The more experiences you have together the closer you will become, and you will notice a difference not just while you are on a walk.

When walking your dog it is the perfect time to include some training activities.  If your dog pulls while walking, I highly recommend using the Sense-ible Harness.  This is a “no pull” harness that gives you more control over your dog and will make your walks much more enjoyable and safer for you both.

When your dog is walking and takes a step or two ahead of you this is the perfect time to teach them the “heal” command.  This command is essential for your safety and for a more pleasurable walk.  After you get “heal” down, you want to start working on “sit”.  When you stop, put your dog in a sit position and give them lots of praise.  Eventually, your dog will learn to do this automatically and instantly stop and sit next to you as soon as you stop walking.  Walking together is a great benefit for both you and your dog, all the while creating an unbreakable bond that lasts a lifetime.  Happy walking and don’t forget to bring the treats to reward your four legged friend for their positive behavior.