All dogs need regular exercise; it keeps them fit, burns energy, keeps their mind stimulated and allows them to interact with other dogs. Walking a dog is also one of the greatest pleasures of owning a dog and will help to keep you fit too.
However, one in five dog owners do not give their pet a daily walk. According to a survey by the Kennel Club, a third of dogs is overweight in the UK; nearly half could die early of an obesity-related illness because their owners are not walking them.
Although pet obesity is a growing problem in the UK, regular exercise and controlled food intake can help prevent and tackle this issue.
How often should you exercise your dog?
- Most dogs need two walks a day of at least 20 minutes; some dogs more, some less.
- Young, large-breed dogs, for example, should not be over-exercised, as it can exacerbate developmental joint problems such as elbow and hip dysplasia.
- Older dogs with arthritis should have regular, steady exercise. It is important to keep these dogs moving, but not to go on long walks at the weekend after a relatively sedentary week, as this can cause a flare up of joint pain.
- If dogs are not regularly and consistently exercised, it is very likely that they will develop behavioural problems, such as separation anxiety, boredom-barking and destructive behaviour.
Mental and Physical Stimulation
Taking in the smells, sounds and sights while on a walk helps keep your dog’s brain active, as he experiences senses he may not be able to at home. Dogs are intelligent animals and can’t be expected to sleep all day while their owners are at work and then behave perfectly when their owners return home. They must have mental and physical stimulation; walking can provide both of these. Walking is also an excellent opportunity for you to bond with your dog and improve obedience levels.
Walking is a natural behaviour for dogs, who enjoy exploring. In addition, walking gives them a chance to play with other dogs. However, not all dogs are so keen on other dogs so it’s important to never allow your dog to run up to an unknown dog. Always have good control of your dog when off the lead.
Both you and your dog will reap the benefits of regular dog walking.
Your vet can advise you on the appropriate amount of exercise your dog needs.