Many people who own dogs understand that they need some kind of physical exercise each day to stay healthy. This could be a game of fetch in the park, an agility session or even a long walk. In fact the reason most people take their dogs out for walks is to provide them with the physical exercise that they need.
The benefit of taking your dog for walks is that it does not just provide physical stimulation but it can also be a great way to provide your dog with mental stimulation too. Several trainers have a great way of putting this idea into perspective by comparing a dog walk to a social media site we all know so well.
When we check our Facebook accounts we can see who has been where, how everyone is and also we can chat and interact with a variety of different people. This is the same information that can be available to a dog when he ventures outside of his house. A dog can smell what other dogs have been around, if there are any other animals in the area, he may even get to interact with other people and dogs. So not only does a walk provide a way for a dog to let off steam but it also provides them with access to do something that comes very natural to them; sniffing.
There are several people I have spoken to that choose not to walk their dogs, stating that ‘they have a big enough garden to run around in’.
Whilst this is true and the dogs may be getting an adequate amount of exercise just think of all the stimulation, interaction, sights, smells and sounds they are missing out on because they haven’t been allowed to leave their home environment. By taking your dogs for walks you are actively exposing your dog to a variety of different stimulus such as bikes, cars, traffic, other animals, and a variety of inanimate objects. If these stimulus are met in a positive way then it can be a great way to help socialise your dog, in other words it helps them to get accustomed to objects you would see regularly and helps to prevent fearful reactions.
Walking also provides a fantastic training opportunity too. Not only does it give you chance to work on your loose lead walking but you could also practice your tricks, even if it is just sitting or lying down.
Being outside provides lots of real life distractions to help proof your dogs training. A dog that is able to sit in the house for a piece of cheese isn’t necessarily going to sit outside when he is across the way from a squirrel. By building up your distractions on your walks and continuing your training your dog is only going to become more reliable with his training.
In conclusion not only does walking improve the health of your dog but it also provides outlet for them to perform natural behaviours, investigate their surroundings, experience a variety of stimulus and is fun for them! In other words by just performing the simple task of taking your dog out you are actively improving his quality of life.