Did you know that February 22 was National Walking the Dog Day? At Florida Animal Friend, we believe that every day should be National Walking the Dog Day! Let’s face it: if you’re a dog owner, you probably participated in the celebration by strolling with your furry friend on February 22—even if you had no idea this holiday existed. After all, dogs gotta walk! But there are also plenty of great reasons to walk your dog (or your friend’s dog or a shelter dog, for that matter) that have nothing to do with the holiday.
5 Great Reasons to Walk Your Dog Regularly
1. It’s good for your dog’s physical health.
Walking your dog helps keep them healthy. Dogs can struggle with obesity, which can cause medical problems that may threaten a pet’s life. A regular walking schedule is the easiest way to ensure that your dog burns more calories than they consume. But it isn’t just about keeping the pounds off. Dog walking will also improve your dog’s digestive and joint health, helping to prevent the immobility that many dog breeds suffer from as they age.
2. It’s good for your dog’s mental health.
Why can’t dogs get all these benefits from simply being let out in the backyard? First, there’s nothing stopping them from plopping down for a nap in the sun, in which case they wouldn’t get any of the physical benefits. But it isn’t just about physical health. Your dog benefits mentally and emotionally from walks. Exploring new surroundings and witnessing wildlife offer important mental stimulation for any dog. Plus, as their owner, you are everything to your pet. Walks provide quality one-on-one time that helps deepen your bond with your four-legged best friend. All these mental benefits can help prevent unwanted behaviors that stem from your dog simply seeking attention.
3. It’s great for you too!
Physical and mental exercise isn’t just good for your pet’s health. It’s great for yours, and for pretty much all the same reasons! Walking has long been known to be an underrated form of exercise. For example, the physical benefits of walking include everything from improved posture to a decreased risk of developing arthritis, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and more. Mentally, the story is the same. Endorphins, which are hormones released in our brains during exercise, make us happy. And regular walking has even been linked to increased attentiveness, self-confidence and creative output. So, if you’ve ever asked yourself, “How often should I walk my dog,” the short answer is: as many times as you want. It’s great for both of you!
4. It provides a change of pace and scenery.
With the COVID-19 pandemic still a daily concern, people are looking for any excuse to get out of the house safely. Walking your dog is a great way to do that. Many people who have been fortunate enough to keep their jobs have been forced to work from home. And believe it or not, people actually miss their commutes. People have reported feeling that the lines between work and home life are now too blurry, resulting in lower overall satisfaction and productivity. Taking a walk with your pet every morning could serve as a much-needed mental “commute,” dividing your day and creating useful boundaries.
5. It’s a constructive activity for high-energy dogs.
Some dogs (just like some people) have much higher energy levels than others, and certain breeds are known for being highly energetic. Regular walking, combined with as many other activities as possible, can help provide stimulation that might prevent more destructive activities when your dog is unsupervised, such as eating the arms of your favorite chair. Plus, releasing excess energy will help ensure your dog sleeps better at night, which might help you sleep better too.
Outdoor Safety Tips When Exercising Your Dog
How to Spot Heat Stroke in Dogs
Florida heat, humidity and sunshine can present emergency medical issues for your dog. Year-round heat is a major concern when exercising your dog. Learn the signs of heat exhaustion and what steps to take if your dog shows signs of distress.
Avoid Blacktops and Concrete (Or Use Booties)
Don’t walk your dog on blacktop where she will absorb heat from the road. If you have to walk in an area where there is only concrete consider booties designed for hot weather use that will protect your dogs paws.
Asphalt can get as much as 40 to 60 degrees hotter than the surrounding air temperature! You should avoid walking your dog in the middle of the day because the asphalt, which absorbs heat, can burn your dog’s paws. Test the pavement by placing your hand on sidewalks and asphalt. If it’s too hot for you, it is too hot for your dog.
Ultra Paws Cool Boots