Most of us know that walking our dogs is good for them. Getting them out for a brisk 15–20-minute walk, 5 days a week does a lot to combat pet obesity, as well as improve joint health, digestive and urinary function, and reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.
However, what you might not know is that you are enjoying those very same benefits…and more!
Both dogs and humans benefit from novel experiences. New sights, smells and surroundings challenge both our and our dogs’ brains to process the new information, preventing boredom and possibly destructive behaviors (yes, in both dogs and humans).
Reduces Anxiety and Depression
Studies have shown that regular walks reduce anxiety in dogs, which can alleviate unwanted behaviors in our dogs such as destructive chewing, inappropriate elimination in the home, incessant barking, aggression and others.
Again, while most of us don’t chew up sofas when we’re stressed, our own mental health is similarly benefited when we get out of the house for an invigorating jaunt with our pooches.
Strengthens Your Bond with your Fur Baby
Enjoying the great outdoors together is the perfect way to share experiences and deepen your trust and bond with one another. It offers you more opportunities to improve or brush up on basic training skills as well, which will lead to reduced stress and better manners on both your parts!
We tend to think of “socialization” in terms of just interaction with other dogs and people. However, socialization is more than that. It also includes how well we react to novel situations and stimulus. Undersocialized dogs (as well as humans, coincidentally) will react inappropriately to anything new, whether its animals, construction equipment or obstacles (such as bridges, moving water, etc.).
Regular walks give both you and your dog positive experiences with new surroundings. This helps make the world an exciting and fun place to explore rather than terrifying or stressful.
Raises Self-Esteem in Both of You
Getting out for a daily walk is an accomplishment. You’ve juggled busy work schedules, family obligations and life’s demands to make time for you and your dog. We’ve done something good for both our and our dogs’ health. This confidence and purpose carries into other aspects of our lives in both small and big ways.
Did you know that regular dog walks help our communities as well?
The University of Western Australia found that dog owners were more likely to:
- acknowledge and greet other people in the street
- exchange favors with neighbors
- meet others in their neighborhood
Not only that, some cities like Wheatridge, Colorado, are enlisting the help of local dog walkers for extra eyes and ears in their mission to create safer neighborhoods. Classes are held to teach these honorary crime-fighting duos (well, the dog owners that is) what to look for if they witness suspicious behavior, what details to take note of, and how to keep themselves safe in the event they witness a crime in progress.
Not Everyone Can Do Daily Dog Walks
Some of us may have unique challenges that make daily walks impossible. Are there ways we can exercise our dogs’ bodies and minds while managing limitations? Talk to your doctor, vet or professional dog trainer about what kinds of activities you and your dog can do together that may provide similar benefits to daily walks.