Why is it important to walk your dog?
Walks and exercise are good for your dog’s muscle development, stamina, weight control and mental stimulation, but it’s also good for you as you will enjoy this time with your dog and also it will keep you steadily active too.
How long to walk your dog?
This is of course dependant to your breed of dog, as some breeds require shorter or longer walks than others due to their energy levels, size and may enjoy different types of activities too. A general guideline for walking a young developing puppy (different breeds mature at different rates) is to walk your puppy five minutes per month of their age, for example a four month old puppy may be walked for twenty minutes per day. Over or under walking a growing dog may have effect on their developing joints, muscles and bones, so consideration should be taken before taking your five month puppy on a long hike. As an adult dog, the length and type of walks may be steadily built up, therefore your adult dog may enjoy longer walks, some dogs may enjoy one or two walks per day, but again this may depend on your dog as an individual, the breed, their energy levels and consideration may be taken into account what other activities your dog may do each day. A small breed dog may live with other dogs and have much active stimulation throughout the day whilst playing and interacting with their canine friends, enjoy much play in the garden or yard, so therefore possibly only require one short walk per day, whereas a medium to large size dog may be left during the day due to their owners work or lifestyle commitments so therefore a dog walker may be required and also a walk before or after the owner leaves their pet. Your dog is an individual and you as their owner may know the exercise enjoyed by the breed and the amount of exercise your dog requires each day by living with them and seeing how they settle around the house each day.
Where to walk your dog?
Make the most of your local surroundings, different path walks, secure fields and possibly local woodland. You may like to ask other dog walkers to recommend new places to walk your dog or for nearby dog walking area. You may be able to work out a short route in your neighbourhood and also a longer route that may provide your dog with different exercise needs. Changing where, when and how you walk your dog will keep him/her interested in the walks and also when walking in new areas there will be many more interesting scents for your dog to investigate. When off lead walking your dog always think about where you can do this for your dog’s safely, other dogs safety and others in the area.
It is important as a dog owner to make sure you and your dog are allowed to walk in certain places and areas before planning your walks. Check you are walking in dog friendly parks and walkways, and not on private property or accessing strictly no dogs allowed areas.
What if my dog doesn’t like other dogs on walks?
Not all dog get on well with other dogs, it may be a general dislike or lack of socialisation to all dogs, it may be a dislike to a certain size or nature or dog, there are so many reasons for this but by knowing your own dog you can still enjoy a dog walk either somewhere that other dogs may not be walked or in an open area so you can clearly see any owners with dogs approaching.
Depending on the severity of your dog disliking other dogs, there may be forms of training you could use and consider to help your dog in certain situations, so do speak to your dog trainer about any issues you have during your walks, as you may be able to encourage slow forms of socialisation and training to help your dog and rectify the matter.
At this point I will mention, not all dogs are alike and also dogs are not human, therefore they may take a dislike to another dog for so many reasons, understanding or managing these dislikes is the important part of dog ownership.
In the UK there has been much awareness about dogs that need space by Yellow Dog. Your dog may need space as he/she has just got over an operation, may be in his/her senior years therefore be less playful and slightly grumpy with other dogs, may be in season or have a season approaching, may be a nervous dog or be a puppy in social training. By your dog simply wearing a yellow ribbon half way up their lead, this will highlight to other dog walkers that your dog needs space for whatever reason and this may help you enjoy and more relaxed walk with your dog. There are Yellow Dog bandanas, dog vests and yellow ribbons available from Yellow Dog which you may like to consider purchasing.
What should I take with me when walking my dog?
Depending if you are planning a 20-30 minute local walk or a longer walk which possibly includes a few stops on the way (possibly at a friend’s home or a dog friendly café etc), here are a few items you may require.
Short local walk
- 2-3 Dog poop bags
- Training sized treats
- Ball or similar (for any off lead activity)
- Mobile phone (in case of an emergency and for you & your dog’s safety)
- 3-6 Dog poop bags
- Training treats
- Mobile phone
- Water for dog
- Small towel (wiping paws may be necessary)
The two main things to take on any dog walk should include dog poop bags and a mobile phone, as cleaning up your dog’s mess is your responsibility as a dog owner and also you and your dog’s safety is important whenever you are out and about.
Other ways and activities to exercise your dog?
It may not always be possible to walk your dog for various reasons but you may still be able to exercise your dog by playing games in the garden such as fetch, tug game and even include the rest of the family which may be fun.
Other forms of activity may include agility, flyball, field trails, heelwork to music or obedience which may include training, trials, competitions etc. These forms of activities may suit you and your dog, plus allow you and your dog to work together.