Walking your dog is a great way for you both to enjoy the outdoors while getting exercise together. Whether that means on-leash around the neighbourhood or through the park, or off-leash on safe trails, walking services as a great way to make sure you’re both hitting your daily fitness goals.
But how much is ideal? Are you walking your dog enough?
It’s a question I think every dog owner has wondered. How much is enough? What’s ideal for your specific dog? Certainly, no two dogs are alike. Things like age and breed will play major factors in your ideal walking schedule.
Start With the Basics
A 30-minute walk benchmark is great to start with. Especially with younger puppies or senior dogs, 30 minutes is a great timeframe for any exercise. You can then grow your exercise regime from there. Was 30 minutes enough? Up your next walk to 45 minutes and see how your dog fares. Maybe an hour is ideal for your dog. Once you find your groove, keep with it and then begin to change up your walk routes and daily routines to keep things interesting!
Once you’ve figured out your ideal walk time for a single walk, consider adding other activities or a second walk for the day. Quite honestly, one walk usually won’t cut it for a fit, active adult dog. Add in games like fetch or tug-o-war to the end or middle of a walk, or throw in a play session somewhere in their day.
For instance, we typically walk Archer for about 45 minutes each morning (with a stop at an open field for her to run), and follow that up with a 30 minute walk in the evening (with another off-leash stop). This is our summer routine, but things change in the winter (typically a 1-hour off-leash trail walk when it’s warm).
Have Puppy Playdates
The very best way to absolutely drain all that pent up energy? Another dog! Archer has tons of friends in the neighbourhood and on the off-leash trails. Once both owners are familiar with another dog, it’s usually a let-them-go mentality when they meet up. As soon as Archer sees one of her friends, I’ll stand back with the other owner and we’ll watch our dogs run circles around each other.
Both dogs enjoy the excitement of playing together, and it serves as great socialization and enforcement of good behaviour.
Most of all, it leaves both dogs exhausted. Archer sleeps like a rock after she plays with her friends. Not only is she the happiest dog that ever was after a playdate, but she is also the sleepiest.
Don’t Be Afraid to Adjust
If your dog isn’t well socialized, is reactive, has arthritis, or is maybe a little overweight, don’t worry! Never be afraid to adjust your routine to fit your dog’s individual needs. One of the biggest obstacles owners face is embarrassment when it comes to walking their dogs—and that embarrassment will lead to them giving up, and letting their dog become sedentary.
A sedentary lifestyle makes for an anxious, destructive dog who will inevitably become overweight. That’s the last thing you want to happen to your dog, so be proactive. Understand whatever shortcomings they may have, and adjust. Take the path less traveled to avoid people and other dogs if your dog is reactive. If your dog is overweight or has joint problems, consider looking for a safe off-leash trail or area for them to exercise at their own pace.
You have options! Don’t be afraid to march to the beat of your own drum. Your pup will benefit from your dedication to their fitness. And, as an added bonus? You’ll be getting fit too!
This article was written on August 17th, 2015 for Good Dogs & Co.