Getting out for a walk with your dog is one of the benefits of dog ownership but sometimes in the dark, cold and wet winter months, it doesn’t always feel like one! A study in Scotland last year (where it doesn’t get much colder, wetter or darker in winter) found that dog owners were 12% more physically active than non dog-owning adults. Their activity level was found to be the equivalent of an adult 10 years younger, and they also had better health and physical functioning. It’s well known that regular exercise can improve flexibility and bone strength as well as making you feel younger, and dog walking is something that fits perfectly into this regular exercise category.
Walking the dog is also a great social activity, as it’s surprising how many fellow dogs and their owners are out there at the same time each day, and once you’ve got a few routine dog walks you’ll find it becomes more and more enjoyable each time.
If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous then try looking online for dog walks – the AA and Natural Trust have several recommended ones listed as a start. If you are trying out a new walk then it’s always worth letting someone at home know the general area of where you are going, as often these pockets of countryside are where phone signals fail. Having the relevant ordnance survey map can also be a good idea in case your walking directions are a bit out of date. Packing an emergency kit in your backpack might also help if you or your dog gets into difficulties.
Of course dog walking also benefits your dog. Getting out and about is what they love, although they will all have their individual preferences on length of walk and type (not all dogs love a cold swim). They also gain so much information about their environment and other dogs you meet. It’s no wonder most like a good nap after the walk to process it all and recover.
So next time you reach for the mac, wellies, high vis and dog to head out in the winter night, it’s worth remembering that both of you will benefit, aside from justifying that second biscuit.