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Embracing Wellness: Celebrating Walk Your Pet Month!

by Heather Carter January 19, 2024

Embracing Wellness: Celebrating Walk Your Pet Month!

January isn’t just the start of a new year; it is also the perfect time to kick off the year on the right paw with Walk Your Pet Month! This month-long celebration encourages pet owners to recognize the significance of regular walks for their furry friends.

Let’s delve into why walking your pet is more than just a daily routine – it is a key ingredient for their overall well-being!

Physical Health Benefits

Regular exercise is as vital for our pets as it is for us! Healthier pets mean fewer trips to the “dogtor”! Walking helps maintain a healthy weight, improves cardiovascular health, and enhances muscle tone, while also helping them to get better sleep and regulate their digestive system. Physical activity during walks is particularly crucial for dogs, providing an outlet for their boundless energy and preventing obesity-related health issues. And for us humans, research has shown that walking at least 30 minutes per day reduces the risk of serious illness.

Mental Stimulation

A stroll around the neighborhood is not just a physical activity – it is a mental workout too! Dogs thrive on mental stimulation. Exploring different scents, sights, and sounds during walks helps keep their minds sharp and engaged.

Helping your dog work through some of their pent-up energy will also help you to manage their destructive behavior. When not stimulated enough, dogs are more likely to chew on items that are not their toys, while also being more likely to bark and annoy the neighbors. Walks are an easy and healthy way to reduce this behavior and help them release any excess energy.

Aids In Training

Having your dog use its energy during a walk will allow for his mind to be calmer. This is a time where your dog is most likely to focus on you and your training. Remember you should be the one walking your dog, not the other way around!

Your dog might be the one controlling the walk if they never received any leash training. An untrained dog may pull on the leash or try to dash off to chase a squirrel while you struggle to hold on to the leash. Fortunately, these problems can usually be corrected with a little training!

When your dog begins to pull, try one of these methods:

  • Make An About Turn- Change directions once your dog reaches the end of the leash and you notice a slight strain on the leash. When your dog changes direction with you, offer a treat or word of praise.
  • Don’t Move- Stop moving as soon as your dog begins pulling on the leash. Once the dog stops pulling, start walking again. Constantly repeating this action will teach your dog that walks will not continue until the pulling stops.
  • Try A Harness- A no-pull harness may be an effective option if your dog still pulls. Gentle pressure placed on the chest or legs reminds your dog not to strain against the leash.

When you work on leash training your dog, keep these things in mind:

  • Positive Reinforcement- Training sessions that use praise and rewards are found to be the most effective. If your dog knows that doing what you want will result in treats and praise, they will be much more likely to follow the rules you have established.
  • Patience- Your dog won’t master walking on a leash after just one training session. In fact, you may need to spend a few weeks or even months helping your dog learn the ins and outs of leash walking.
  • Try Some Pre-Walk Exercise- Walking calmly on a leash may be difficult if your dog has been cooped up in the house all day. Help your pooch expend that excess energy by throwing a ball or flying disc in the backyard for 20 minutes or so before you start your walk.
  • Don’t Use A Retractable Leash While Training- Retractable leashes may only reinforce pulling behavior. Every time your dog pulls, the leash unwinds a little more, teaching your dog that pulling gets results.
  • Consider Obedience Training- With obedience training, you will learn how to teach your dog commands and practice how to walk on a leash. Commands are particularly important when walking your dog. For example, when you say, “leave it,” your dog will know it is time to stop sniffing around or to ignore that fun looking squirrel. The “slow” command tells your pet to slow down, which will reduce leash pulling.

Bonding Time

Walking your pet isn’t just about their health; it is also an excellent opportunity to strengthen the bond between you and your furry companion. The shared experience of exploring the outdoors creates positive associations and fosters a deeper connection. It is a perfect chance for quality one-on-one time away from the distractions of home.

Setting a regular walking routine will help build your dog’s trust. Knowing they have their daily walk with you is reassuring and will reduce any potential stress. As you and your dog explore and experience different situations during your walk, your pup will gain confidence knowing that you are by their side for support.

Socialization Skills

For dogs, walks provide a chance to socialize with other pets and people. Properly supervised interactions during walks contribute to improved socialization skills and reduce the likelihood of behavioral issues. It is an opportunity for your pet to learn good manners, build positive associations with others, and get lots of extra love and attention! Everyone likes being told how cute and adorable they are!

Routine and Structure

Pets, especially dogs, thrive on routine. Regular walks provide a sense of structure in their daily lives. Predictable routines contribute to a sense of security and stability for your pet, reducing stress and anxiety.

Experts agree that an appropriate amount of time for a daily walk is a minimum of 30-45 minutes in total. Keep in mind that certain breeds such as herding dogs and other high-energy dogs may require more time!

As we celebrate, “Walk Your Pet Month,” let us recognize the multifaceted benefits that daily walks bring to our beloved companions. Whether you have a dog, or another furry friend, incorporating regular walks into their routine is a simple yet powerful way to enhance their overall health and well-being. So, leash up, head outdoors, and embark on a journey of health, happiness, and companionship with your pet!😊




Heather Carter

Author



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