Ever wondered why it was important to walk your dog?

Dog-walking a terrier in the snow.
A woman dog-walking in the snowy woods. ©Joe Leahy. Unsplash

Dog walking is such a natural part of your life with a dog that few people trouble to find out all the reasons it is so important. Knowing why your dog should have regular walks will help you get motivated when cold weather or a busy schedule give you second thoughts about taking her out.

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It’s usually a pleasant affair to take your hound around the block or to the park, and it can be a useful shared routine for both of you. But let’s take a closer look at the precise reasons walking your dog should not be a matter of whim.

Dog-walking for exercise

Everybody knows that a dog needs to exercise and stretch her legs – even if some older or lazier hounds put up a fight! Even a big garden can feel cramped to a dog if she can’t get up to her full running pace. You’re also less likely to throw a stick or otherwise encourage her to run (or swim) in the comfort of your own domain.

Dog-walking for company

Ever noticed that your dog gets more excited about leaving through the front door than out the back to the garden?

Dogs are social animals. As much as she loves being with you, taking your dog for a walk will give her the chance to meet old and new friends of her own species. She’ll also be inspired by new smells, canine and other, that will help her place herself in the world.

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A bit of rough-and-tumble with other dogs is good for stretching those unused muscles and exercising her natural instincts.

Dog-walking to bond

Have you ever had to go on a long drive with one of your parents? It might feel boring at the time, but spending that one-on-one time together – even if you don’t have much to say to each other – can be a strong bonding experience.

This feeling of a shared mission can also be enjoyed with your pet. That one-to-one attention will increase your dog’s affection for you, and of you for your dog. And an increased attachment between a person and their dog has been proven to increase the owner’s motivation to go dog-walking, creating a positive feedback loop. This is known as the ‘Lassie effect.’

Dog-walking for your dog’s health

Regular dog-walking can ward off cardiovascular, muscular, and metabolic diseases in your pet. This type of dog exercise also counters behavioural problems. The psychological effects are very positive since a twice-daily mini-adventure will discourage boredom and irritability.

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Dog-walking for yourself

You and your family will also reap untold benefits from dog-walking. Many of these benefits are the same that your dog enjoys! Most people don’t get enough exercise, for example, and it’s reckoned that if every dog-owner who doesn’t walk their pet were to start doing so, it would push 15% more underactive people into the safe zone.

Regular exercise like this can reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and colon and breast cancers in humans. It’s also great for the mind, since leaving the house improves sociability, especially if you live alone or feel trapped in the home. And if you take the family with you, you can have a bonding experience, too!

Set yourself and those with whom you share your dog a simple challenge: take her out of the house for two thirty-minute stretches a day. It won’t be long before you see improvements in the health, happiness, and relationships of all involved.

Read Also: What Our Dogs Need from Us the Most

John is a filmmaker and freelance writer. Specialising in leadership, digital media and personal growth, his passions include world cinema and biscuits. He grew up with a golden Labrador named Abba (both of them were children of the '70s) and is nicknamed "G-Dog" for his dogly approach to life. He lives in London but is always on the move.