By Sari Reis
Contrary to popular belief, dogs do not exercise themselves in the backyard. They may chase the odd rabbit, squirrel or lizard, but that does not constitute sufficient exercise for benefits. Also, turning your dog into a week-end warrior by taking him on a five-mile trail walk or hours at dog beach on the weekend does not replace walking him daily during the week.
Here’s what he is missing out on:
Exercise — According to Animal Foundation, the average dog needs at least one hour of exercise every day. The benefits to his heart, lungs and limbs of a daily walk does wonders for keeping him healthy and fit.
Prevents boredom — Dogs were designed to be stimulated, that’s why they have such excellent senses. They also like to be busy. If a dog is left on his own all day without any physical activity or stimulation, chances are he will get into trouble by trying to entertain himself.
Training — Walking your dog provides all kinds of opportunities for training. Teaching him to heel, to sit before crossing the road, to leave it or drop it if he likes to pick things up along the way are invaluable lessons.
Socialization — Meeting other dogs along the way when he is walked is a great opportunity for him to learn how to behave around other canines.
Weight control — Most dogs love to eat and just like we humans, without the appropriate burning of calories, food can turn into extra pounds putting them at risk for diabetes, heart problems, arthritis, etc.
Confidence building — Walking your dog daily, especially in different places, helps to build his confidence as he encounters different people, places, dogs and obstacles.
Better behavior — There is an expression, “A tired dog is a good dog.” If a dog is getting the stimulation and exercise he needs daily by a good walk, his behavior will be much improved. There will be less whining and barking for attention.
Relieving himself — We all know dogs must relieve themselves by eliminating their waste. Many dogs do not like to use their own backyards for this purpose and therefore to keep their digestive system healthy and to keep them regular, a daily walk or two or three will accomplish this.
Building the bond — Walking your dog every day helps to build the bond of love and trust between you. For most dogs their favorite activity is going for walks. If you doubt this just pick up the leash and ask, “Do you want to go for a walk?” Then watch that tail go crazy as their whole body shakes with excitement. What a great way to show him your love!
Your good health — Walking your dog every day will help you stay trim, healthy and happy as well.
If you are too busy, physically challenged, or just too tired to walk Fido every day, I suggest hiring a professional dog walker to do it for you. He will still derive most of these excellent benefits and you will feel good about taking great care of your best friend.
—Sari Reis is a Certified Humane Education Specialist and the owner of Mission Valley Pet Sitting Services. For more information contact her at 760-644-0289 or missionvalleypetsitting.com.