The life of a dog can be extended and improved dramatically with better health. Beyond the bowl (eating the right nutrition) and an excellent veterinarian, one of the biggest places to guide your canine companion to an improved life is through proper exercise. People with dogs have a benefit of a loyal workout partner.
The number one exercise you can do for your dog is walking. No other activity is as perfectly suited for your four-legged partner. Walking will allow your dog to elevate it’s heart rate, reduce stress of being indoors and can easily adjust to a pace comfortable to their age and health.
A Few Precautions to Take
Before you set out on your walking adventure, check to make sure you have gone through the following:
- Proper Collar / Harness – Before you take your dog out of the home, make certain they are wearing a sturdy harness with a leash that is comfortable on your wrist. To determine if you should use a collar or harness, there are two things to consider: weight ratio and neck ratio.
- Weight Ratio – The weight ratio is the weight of the dog compared to the walker of the dog. If the ratio of the dog is lower than 1:5 (20 pound dog to a 100 pound human), a harness is recommended.
- Neck Ratio – The neck ration is the circumference of the dogs neck to the circumference of their skull at the widest part. Some breeds (usually sighthounds) such as greyhounds and whippets have wider necks than skulls and they will prove themselves a four-legged Houdini when wearing a traditional collar.
- Harness – Overall, a harness is recommended if your dog has lots of playful energy. Keep in mind that the first time you put the harness on it can take 10-15 minutes to get it secured properly – please take the time to do it right.
- Identification tags – Continuing on the first point, should your dog see a squirrel or other tempting treat, it is good practice to have an identification tag on their collar (as well as a micro chip ID, if possible). An additional layer of peace of mind, identification tags can be purchased at most drug stores or online.
- Weather Conditions – Some places get extreme weather and since our dogs cannot speak, and are often eager to go on walks, pick a time of day for good weather.
- Start Small – It is best to have a small loop that is repeated multiple times rather than a single, long circle around a large area. The reason for this is simple – if either you or your dog tire, a smaller loop will allow you to remain close to home. Until you have completed several successful walks, keep it close to home.
- Safety – Understand the neighborhood you are walking in and keep in mind traffic speeds, wildlife and potential interactions with other humans.
- You – Make sure you have the ability to walk your dog and your health is strong enough for your companion to rely on you, should anything happen. If you aren’t sure about going alone, invite a friend!
- Bags – The end of our list could only have one thing – poop bags. Be a responsible dog owner and have at least two small bags with you for solid waste collection. Your neighbors thank you in advance.
Ready for your walk? Then head outside and enjoy the world with your companion – they will love the time together and bond closer with their owners. On top of being a great workout for your dog, the health benefit of long walks is shared with the owner. Additionally, dogs learn their own neighborhood by going on walks and helps them navigate should they ever be alone outside.