Anyone who's had to stay indoors for a protracted period knows what it's like to go stir-crazy. Dogs are no different—they yearn to get out and about. Even the slightest hint of gallivanting can make your dog ridiculously happy. Walking a dog can be a fantastic bonding experience and a chance for you to get some fresh air and engage with the world beyond your screen. So, how long do you need to walk your dog to improve its quality of life? That depends on various factors, including its state of health.
Your dog stands to gain a lot from its daily ambles, just as you do. Exercise burns excess calories, so walks help combat obesity and its health risks. Active dogs are less likely to struggle with joint stiffness and arthritis. Additionally, workouts prevent constipation and present opportunities for your dog to empty its bladder and use its scent to communicate with other canines in the area.
Walks beyond your yard are fun for your dog. It uses its senses to learn more about its environment and socializes with other dogs. Without this stimulation, your dog can start acting out and exhibiting less than desirable behaviors such as restless barking or frustration-induced chewing. A nice walk can tire your dog and promote restful sleep too.
Puppies are so enthusiastic about walks, but they're still babies and don't have the staying power for long walks. You're better off doing three ten-minute walks than taking your pup on a half-hour stroll. As for seniors and dogs with health issues, just 20 minutes of walking per day can be enough to reap the benefits. Many older dogs are fit as fiddles. Chat with your vet if you're unsure where to draw the line with your dog. They can assist you with a tailored exercise program that won't give rise to an injury or unintended discomfort.
Brachycephalic dog breeds like pugs and Frenchies are limited by their 'smushed' facial anatomy. Those short heads and cute snouts make breathing a bit of a mission, which isn't ideal on a walk. Monitor your pooch and keep walks brief but rewarding. A 15-minute walk twice a day should suffice.
Adult dogs in their prime are ready to go, go, go. Aim for at least two walks per day, but if you can squeeze in more, yay! Keep your dog's breed in mind—smaller dogs and breeds with shorter legs and long backs might prefer short walks. And if you've got a high-energy or athletic breed such as a border collie, Jack Russell terrier, or Siberian husky, more power to you. Your dog will whip you into shape with hour-long walks.
If you're a fitness freak, you'll need to remember a time when you weren't conditioned up to your eyeballs. Even athletic breeds need a little build-up before they can accompany you on cycling sessions, long runs, and hikes. Some dogs like swimming and retrieving, and yours might take a liking to the agility stunts that feature in dog sports. Eventually, you can dabble with training and turn your pup into a lean, mean (i.e., competitive) athletic machine.
All dogs are different. An adult rescue might not be adequately socialized—it may respond to strangers and other puppers negatively out of anxiety or fear. Keep your dog and neighbors' comfort in mind, and try a night walk when the roads are a little quieter.
Be mindful of the weather and season to limit the risk of heatstroke. Stick to the cooler hours during summer, so your dog's paw pads don't burn.
In general, you should be walking your dog for 30 minutes twice a day in the mornings and evenings. This activity is in addition to playtime. If your dog is a family dog, share the dog-walking responsibility with your other household members. Or hire a pet sitter to walk your dog and help it go potty when you're off at work.
Begin with leash training in your backyard and work from there. Take a poop scoop and some water so you and lil' buddy can stay hydrated and practice good manners. Keep Fido leashed and only remove the leash in designated areas. It helps if he's desexed and identifiable in case he bolts off and gets lost.
Give your dog time to explore its surroundings and have potty breaks during walks. Let it poke about with its nose and reward loose leash walking. Observe your dog before, during, and after walks. Does it seem like it's about to burst out of its skin with excitement, or does it seem hesitant? It's crucial to strike a balance because over-exercising can become problematic.
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