The sound of the leash’s metal rings clanking together may send your dog spinning into circles. He will run from the other side of the house when he hears this glorious sound because he knows that it’s time for a walk. This means new sights, smells, and possibly new friends, which is all so exciting to him. As he’s spinning, you tell him to calm down and sit so you can clip his leash onto his collar or harness. You grab the plastic bags, and out the door you go! Your dog is happy as can be, sniffing everything, peeing almost everywhere. He just can’t get enough.
The Root of the Behavior
Long before humans became best friends with dogs, they were wild animals, roaming the streets, herding sheep, chasing, and running. Different breeds served different purposes but most of them were very active. Dog breeds known for herding include Corgis, Bearded Collies, Belgian Malinois, Border Collies, Briards, and Entlebucher Mountain Dogs. Some breeds are known for hunting and have great instincts in the wild. They include the Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Cocker Spaniel, English Setter, German Shorthaired Pointer, Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever, and Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. Other dogs that are good for hunting, specifically to use their noses to follow trails and have stamina, include the American Foxhound, Beagle, Dachshund, Greyhound, Otterhound, Saluki, and Whippet. Terriers, while not herding or hunting on long trails, still tend to be bundles of energy, and hunt small rodents, like mice.
These dog breeds have a long history of being active, so sitting around the house means that the natural energy they have isn’t being used. Even if there is a backyard where the dog can run and do his business, a walk is still valuable. Dogs can enjoy walks in a few ways. They get mental stimulation from a walk. They sniff, stop, investigate, pee, and meet new people and new dogs. Typically, they can’t do this in their backyard or it is not as exciting. Walking your dog for mental stimulation is an excellent way to encourage socialization.
Another reason dogs enjoy walks is for exercise. They get fresh air, a chance to walk at a brisk pace, and a chance to be with you. A good walk can tire out your dog and help him sleep at night. While our doctors tell us humans that 30-minutes of walking each day is good for us, chances are, your dog thinks so too and wants to come along.
Our four-legged friends also use walks as a chance to relieve themselves in their favorite place. Cleaning up after your dog is the least fun part of your outing, but this duty comes with having a dog. If you walk your dog regularly, this is a good training tactic to make sure your dog knows where to go so he doesn’t have accidents in the house.
Walking with your dog also trains them to work with you. You teach them how to keep pace, not pull, walk at your side, and interact with other humans and dogs.
Encouraging the Behavior
Your dog will benefit significantly from regular walks. Many dogs are overweight and develop health problems like arthritis, diabetes, and heart disease. These problems can add up a lot of vet bills, but walking can keep your dog healthy and stave off some of these ailments. Walking can also keep your dog’s nails short. Walking on cement is a way to file the nails, which means less uncomfortable vet visits or do-it-yourself nail trimmings.
A good walk can help keep the digestive system moving as well. The movement is good for the digestive tract and keeps things flowing well. Also, if your dog is alone all day, he might turn to destructive behaviors such as tearing apart pillows, biting walls, or keeping you awake at night by howling. Sometimes that is caused by pent-up energy and if that’s the case, regular walks could be the cost-free solution.
The best part about taking your dog for a walk is it bonds the two of you. Your dog will associate you with good memories, feeling good, and sniffing lots of things. You’ll be happy knowing your dog is happy, and you’ll probably feel healthier, too.
You should make sure your dog knows how to interact with other humans and dogs before you go on your walk. You never want your dog becoming aggressive and attacking anyone.
Other Solutions and Considerations
Before you head out for a walk, make sure your dog has a well-fitted harness or collar. Ask your vet which is more appropriate for your pup. Equip yourself with the proper size and strength leash. A leash for a ten-pound dog is not helpful for a German Shepherd. And the least fun but necessary item, take a plastic bag to collect his deposits.
If you have a dog who tends to pull or refuses to listen to your commands when you walk, go to a trainer for some tips. Some basics you should know are to walk in front or next to your dog to show that you are in charge. You also want to maintain a short leash; a 15-foot leash will make it easy to lose control and your dog could run into traffic or greet an unwilling passerby. Make sure you let your dog enjoy sniffing trees, grass, and stop signs, but also be the one to tell him time is up. At the end of your walk, make sure he is patient as you take off his leash. And just like you, he’ll probably need a drink of water, so make sure his water bowl is full.
Dogs need to be walked for a lot of reasons and so do humans. Your doctor will agree that you’ll both experience health benefits, both mentally and physically, from walking with your best friend. Grab a leash and your pup and get ready for your paws to hit the ground walking! It will be pawsitively terrific.