Why is walking your dog important?

One of the things everyone knows when they get a dog is they’re going to have to get out for a walk at least once a day. But why is walking your dog so important? They need the physical exercise to keep them healthy, but they also need a change of scenery and a break from spending endless hours hanging around the house. Let’s face it, that can be pretty boring!

Whose walk is it anyway?

A dog walk gives them a chance to see new sights, hear new sounds and sniff new sniffs. In other words, they get to experience the outside world and all the novelty and excitement that brings.

For some owners, the daily walks aren’t anywhere near as thrilling as our dogs find them. I’ve lost count of the number of people I’ve seen trudging around, eyes glued to their phone, totally ignoring their dog, and looking like walking the dog is just another tedious chore they have to do.

If that sounds a bit like you – or if you have just never thought about it – it’s time for a reset!

Walking your dog is important for building your relationship

We all know having a dog in your life is a huge joy. And walking your dog is actually a part of your relationship with them, rather than a chore.

More to the point, for your dog, it’s their only relationship. You’re the one who gives them security, love, fun, interaction, guidance… There’s that great saying that you have your family, your friends, your work colleagues, your social life – but your dog has only you. And often the best thing you do together all day is going out for that dog walk to explore!

Can you imagine how you’d feel if the only person you love or that’s in your life totally ignored you? Just plodded along without a glance, a word, a kind gesture…? That’s the reality for lot of dogs.

Walking your dog is really important to build on your relationship, deepen your canine connection and create the bond we all dream of. It’s also the time where a lot of behaviour and training problems can be overcome, prevented or just never arise in the first place!

Rescue mixed breed wearing a waterproof coat out on a walk sitting looking up at the camera

How to give your dog the perfect walk

Remember this is your dog’s walk

Walking your dog is something you do ‘with’ them, not ‘to’ them! So put your phone away and focus on your dog.

Have a purpose to each walk

That might just be a walk around the park where you have fun together. It might be a chance to practise some training exercises, have a sniffing walk, or a walk where your dog decides where you’re going – be careful if you have a Labrador or you could easily end up in a lake or someone’s kitchen! Whatever it is, have a plan for something you do together.

Watch your dog

That sounds simple, but by doing this you can see when they’re happy and enjoying themselves – and when they might start looking worried or concerned. Ask yourself “are they happy – if not, how can I help them feel happier?” This often is to remove them from a situation to a distance they feel secure again. But if you’re not watching, you won’t know. Often dogs become reactive when they’re out and about because they’ve been put in situations where they feel uncomfortable and their owner hasn’t noticed. They get used to having to deal with situations themselves and that becomes their default behaviour! Walks should build trust and focus with your dog, helping prevent behaviour problems.

Encourage your dog to watch you too

Teach a ‘watch me’, take treats, have toys with you… Even if your dog is on-lead: change speed, direction, play, talk in silly voices – do things that keep them focussed on you. If you’re “boring”, your dog might go ‘self-employed’ and find things, people or other dogs who are more interesting!

Real life training

You can’t just teach recall at home – and maybe a training class – and expect it to happen perfectly when you’re out on a dog walk with all those distractions and temptations. Your dog walk is the time to put your training into practice. For recall, start slowly with no distractions and on a long line. Only call your dog when you know they’re listening to you. Have lots of well-rewarded successes before you expect more.

Let your dog sniff

While it’s easy to get frustrated if your dog stops every 30 seconds to sniff, this is how they explore the world. Just because our noses aren’t as good doesn’t mean we should underestimate the importance of scent in our dogs’ worlds.

Remember to enjoy your dog walks together

Probably the most important thing, however, is to enjoy your walks together yourself. Make them fun and interactive for both of you – and remember the couple who play together, stay together.

Interesting fact: most recall problems come from not generalising the behaviour you want in the environment where you need it most. So if you want them to listen on dog walks, practice on dog walks!

2 thoughts on “Why is walking your dog important?”

  1. Walking your dog is an essential activity. I have thoroughly read about it on PetCareRx. It’s not just good for your dog. It also helps you, as you tend to work out with them. So ditch the treadmill and go out for dog walks more.

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