Be a Good Boy and Walk Your Dog for Health Benefits
Call Lassie; it’s Walk Your Dog Month this January. Don’t let the winter weather get you down. There are many benefits of owning a dog and hitting the pavement this crisp time of year. Enjoy a quick walk around the neighborhood or a hike into the woods to celebrate. You’ll reap the benefits either way. In this blog, let’s discuss how the perks of having a dog pertain to your health, including staying active, getting social, finding inner peace, and reducing stress. A bonus list is included with a few of the Dog Parks/trails near you!
Stay active, even lose a little weight
Experts say to get around 2.5 hours of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise per week. Your dog needs about 20-30 minutes of exercise a day, which means the benefits of a pet having a dog include surpassing this recommendation. If you are doing 30 minutes a day with your pup, you’ll be hitting 3.5 hours total. Depending on how aggressively you’re walking, you can burn anywhere from 90-200 calories in a total of 30 minutes. That’s 2,100 calories in one week!
A Few Things to Consider About Your Dog
It’s important to note that there are a few things to consider about your dog before heading out for a walk. What time of day is it, if the pavement is hot to your hand then it is most likely hot to your pups’ paws. The distance and amount of time for walking your dog depends on the dog breed, age, dog’s tolerance, and your schedule (and physical ability to keep up). Walking a dog outside when the temperature is over 90* is not recommended. Please never bicycle and think your dog can keep up, that is not walking your dog.
> Breed. German Shepherds, Border Collies and Siberian Huskies are natural-born athletes and make great jogging partners. They have a higher tolerance and demand for exercise over dogs who prefer to hang out on their master’s lap. Some lap dogs include Cocker Spaniel, Toy Poodles, and Shih Tzus. Please remember the little guys’ legs are not made to travel over miles of jogging trails. They do however fit wonderfully in backpacks!
> Age. Just like humans, younger folk require more exercise due to higher energy levels. Many pups who are middle-aged (5-8 years) and senior (9+ years) struggle to muster up the energy to get out. Keep in mind outliers do exist. Diseases, like arthritis and muscle atrophy, may also affect a dog’s ability to get active. These dogs might want to get active, but can’t due to their physical ailments. Older dogs might even surprise you by having prodigious amounts of energy. The benefits of getting a puppy with an older dog include the best of both worlds.
>Tolerance Level. 20-30 minutes shouldn’t be a challenge for the dog who is in good standing physical health. Some can even go up to 2-3 hours while on long walks or hikes through the woods. Obese dogs will struggle to make even the 20-30 minutes happen, but it’s probably a good idea to walk them anyways to get back into shape. Frequent breaks and heavy panting may occur. Speak with your veterinarian about weight management. If you are overweight, the benefits of owning a dog include accountability partners!
It’s a good idea to track your pooch. Learn habits of their energy level during their walk. Does she or he slow down in the middle of your trail? Is your dog panting? When is your dog panting? What is your dogs energy level at the end of the walk? All these are questions to keep track of and answer along the way. Your dog’s tolerance level should increase as they become healthier and closer to the right standing physical health. Just keep in mind, boundaries should be kept in mind. As humans, it takes time for stamina and proper body conditioning to build to avoid potential injuries. And remember to bring along a water bottle and stay Hydrated. Stopping for water is a good time to stretch your legs and hips.
>Right amount of Time. Do you have the appropriate amount of time necessary to dedicate to your pet’s needs? It’s important! There are other options to provide your dog with exercise if you do not have the time. Consider the following options:
- Hire dog walker
- Playtime in fenced in the back yard
- Low-impact indoor activities
- Play indoors when you are available
The goal is to engage your dog in some physical actives for at least 10-15 minutes a day, even if that’s around the house. The mental and physical aspects of exercise are so rewarding to a dog. Watching your Pup light up when you grab the leash is the best!
Pros of getting a dog into your social life (and we’re barking about it now). There are many different ways to meet like-minded dog parents in the greater Williamson County area. Please be mindful of how many dogs are at the park when you arrive, if you have a little guy and there are several larger breed dogs it might be wise to walk the trails and keep the little guy free from bullying. Please do not take your dog if they are in HEAT – Consider neutering/spaying your pup for a longer, happier life.
Enjoy sharing stories about your pooch, linking up for walks, and sharing tips at these locations:
- Strut Your Mutt with Williamson County Animal Shelter
- Dog House Drinkery & Dog Park – Leander
- Bark Park – Georgetown
- Dog Depot – Round Rock
- Bark Park – Cedar Park
- Dog Park – Wells Branch
- Brushy Creek Dog Park – Hutto
- Sun City Park – Georgetown
Find Inner Peace, Purpose and Keep Evil Thoughts Away
“A dog is a (wo) man’s best friend.” Yes, this is a cliche phrase. However, so true. Sometimes it’s hard to find meaning in our lives, and a dog can be a reminder. Dogs do need you. You need to feed, water, walk, and pay attention to your furry friends. When someone needs you, it makes you feel less lonely and give purpose to your life. If you suffer from depression, this might be the remedy that saves you from evil thoughts.
Experts say dogs lower blood pressure and cortisol levels, a hormone that is released when stress occurs. Over time, these factors can lead to hypertension and high cholesterol. This is no good. However, managing stress via owning a dog will help you lower your risk. Tell. Your spouse, this is the benefit of having two dogs (and you’ll need more eventually).
Dogs are beneficial in therapy sessions, too. Experts say social behaviors, attention spans, and depression greatly improved in patients who were autistic, suffered from ADHD or depression, and/or had Alzheimer’s.
Whether you are on a mission to reduce stress, get social, or lose weight walking; your dog will be beneficial all year round. Make sure to plan and stay focused on your goals when walking the pooch. It’s important to keep walking, for you and Pooch, at the top of your priority list this month!