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The benefits of walking your dog are numerous… for you and your dog. Taking your dog for daily walks keeps both of you healthy, gives you both a chance to socialize, and strengthens the bond between you.
We've broken down the reasons to walk your dog below but the bottom line is this: walking your dog makes them happy.
Don't believe us?
In a 2018 "Dog People Walking Report," released by Rover.com, 70% of dog owners said their pup is happier when they go for a walk. And, 42% said their dog appears sad if they miss a walk.
Need more evidence of the benefits of walking your dog?
A fat dog may look cute in pictures, but overweight dogs are no joke. Dogs that weigh too much are at higher risk for diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and some types of cancer.
It's also bad for their joints, can lead to arthritis, and makes getting around difficult and uncomfortable.
(Learn more about the best hip & joint supplements for dogs.)
The sad truth is, overweight dogs don't live as long as healthy-weight dogs. And, their quality of life for the time they're with you isn't great.
Unfortunately, many dogs are overweight.
A 2017 Banfield Pet Hospital study of more than 2.5 million dogs found that 1 in 3 was overweight or obese. And, owners of overweight dogs spent 17% more on health care and 25% more on medications than owners of healthy-weight dogs.
Additionally, VCA Animal Hospitals estimates that 50% of dogs in the U.S. are overweight and 25 to 30% are obese.
Once or twice daily walks of at least 30 minutes are the best way to keep dogs at a healthy weight and prevent obesity-related illnesses.
Walking isn't only good for your dog's physical health. It's crucial to his mental health as well.
Dogs dislike being bored. But going for a walk is never boring! There are so many things to see and smell, all of which keep his mind stimulated and active.
Daily walks also help your dog burn off excess energy. This is especially important for high-energy breeds (Welsh Corgis, Russell Terriers, Huskies, Retrievers, etc.).
Without an outlet for all their energy, they'll turn to whatever's around them to focus on. This may result in problem behaviors like excessive barking, jumping, or chewing on furniture.
Teaching your puppy how to be social is another of the many reasons to walk your dog. You're likely to encounter other people and dogs while going for a walk with your pooch. These are great opportunities to teach your dog how to interact with them.
Use the encounters to teach your dog that strangers aren't dangerous. And, that the best way to greet other dogs is with a wagging tail and lots of sniffing.
Each successful interaction builds your dog's confidence. And confident dogs are happy dogs. This is true of adult dogs as much as puppies. Plus, your dog may make friends along the route and look forward to these daily meetups.
A dog who never meets other dogs or is kept away from new people may be more nervous at places like the vet's or when a work person enters the home.
"The most significant correlate of dog walking across several studies is a strong sense of owner responsibility and attachment to the dog," wrote the authors of an article in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine.
Simply put, spending time with your dog on a walk strengthens the bond between both of you.
And isn't that why we have dogs? For that special, unbreakable bond you can only get with a fur baby.
The physical and mental health benefits your dog gets from daily walks are much the same for you.
Walking 30 minutes a day doesn't only keep your dog healthy. It's the exact amount of time doctors recommend for human health, too.
Doing longer walks? The American Heart Association says: "For every hour of brisk walking, life expectancy for some people may increase by two hours."
Furthermore, a Swedish research study found that dog owners had a lower risk of death after a hospitalization for a heart attack or stroke than those without a dog.
Walking your dog also helps with your mental health. In that Rover study we mentioned earlier, 93% of dog owners said the best way they destress is to take their dog for a walk.
And, research shows that the time you spend with your dog (including on walks) increases the level of beta-endorphins, oxytocin, and dopamine – all chemicals associated with happiness.