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Monday, February 10, 2020

It's Walk Your Dog Month! Here Are 10 Benefits to Walking a Dog

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Ten Benefits to Walking a Dog

It's a simple fact that dogs need walks. Most people think this is because no one wants their dog to have bathroom accidents inside their home, and that's true. But dogs need to walk outside for longer than the average bathroom break. Just like with humans, walks have substantial physical, mental, and social benefits for dogs. That's one of the excuses my daughters use whenever they ask if they can go to a neighbor's house and offer to walk their dog, and I'm happy to let them, knowing that both they and the dog will reap a variety of benefits from the experience.

Health Benefits for Humans

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Medical study after medical study has shown that walking improves your overall health. It leads to a longer life span and more functional years. Luckily, walking also has one of the lowest injury rates of all aerobic exercise. Studies have shown that people who live in walkable neighborhoods have lower rates of cardiovascular disease, ad walking helps improve mental function, too. So lace up your sneakers and grab a leash!

Social Benefits for Humans

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Want to meet new people? Walking your dog might be more effective than joining a local meet-up group or signing up for a dating app. One study showed that a person walking a dog had three times the number of social interaction instigated by another person than did a person walking alone: People who like dogs are likely to approach you if you're out walking yours, meaning that you're more likely to meet people while you're out with Fido than alone.

Community Benefits

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University researchers in Australia, the U.K., and the United States conducted a telephone survey in four large cities to study how pets impact how people interact in their communities. They found that owning a pet means you are more likely to get to know your neighbors. This makes sense when you think about the amount of time you spend either walking your dog or letting them run around at the dog park. While your dog is making new friends, you might make some, too. Walking regularly through your community also gives you more exposure to your neighbors and the daily rhythms of your neighborhood.

Your Dog Will Be Happier

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You could just let your dog run around in your backyard, but that's much less fun for your dog. The different daily experiences regular dog-walking provides are excellent for your dog's mental health. Exploring new routes, seeing unique wildlife, encountering other people walking their dogs, seeing kids at the bus stop, and other new adventures provide needed mental stimulation to keep your dog alert and interested in life.

Your Dog Will Be Healthier

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Regular walks provide many of the same health benefits for your dog as they do for you! How much walking your dog needs to reap the health benefits depends on their breed. Most dogs need a walk at least once a day, although some dogs may need more. The kind of dog you have and its level of fitness will also help determine how long and how vigorous your walk should be to give them the correct amount of exercise.

You and Your Dog Will Have Healthier Joints

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Walking is good for all dogs, even dogs battling arthritis; older dogs can enjoy gentle walks on the grass. Regular walking while your dog is younger will help prevent joint issues later in life, and walking is just as good for your joints as theirs. Get outside and you'll decrease the chances that both you and your dog will struggle with immobility as you age.

You and Your Dog Will Be Less Likely to Be Obese

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Both dogs and people can struggle with obesity, but regular walks can help you and your dog burn calories and fight weight gain. A university study from England published in 2017 confirmed that people who walk daily have lower BMIs than people who walk less. People who consistently walked more than 15,000 steps a day were more likely to be at a healthy weight.

Your Dog Will Be Less Stressed

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Dogs can get stressed out when they spend too much time alone or don't have appropriate ways to get out their extra energy. Walks address both of these issues. Being out and about will let your dog see and interact with other humans and other dogs being walked as well as with you. Regular walks also enable dogs to work off their energy healthily.

Your Dog Will Stay Out of Trouble

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Ever known a dog that ate a sofa or dug up a freshly planted garden? That's because bored dogs quickly become destructive dogs. Dogs need stimulation and regular exercise to prevent boredom and prevent them from thinking up their own ways to amuse themselves. Tired dogs who receive focused attention from their favorite person (you!) and the mental stimulation walks provide are far less likely to destroy your living room.

You and Your Dog Will Bond

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The best way to bond with your canine companion is to spend quality time together. At home, it's easy to get distracted by chores, your phone, or one of the hundred other demands on your time. However, getting outside together and going on adventures will lead to many shared experiences that will help deepen your relationship. Your dog will soon learn the routine of going for a walk, and that, too, will make your relationship seem more solid to your pup.

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

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