If you have a dog, you know how much your best friend can help you get out and walk. Walking your dog is something you have to do every day, and it also motivates you to get out and walk even more. Here’s how you can get extra steps and hit your step goal while walking your dog, and have fun too!
Dogs are special family members. They give you unconditional love and companionship and can reduce stress, even if they do occasionally chew up your favorite shoes or bark like crazy at the mailman. One huge benefit of sharing your life with a dog is the motivation to get outside and get moving. Even if you don’t feel like walking, your dog usually does, and it’s a shared activity that can make you both feel better. Here are some tips to get a nice, brisk walk with your dog, stay safe and have more fun.
Walking: Good For You and Your Dog
You know how good walking is for your own health, but it’s also great for your dog. If you know about the many benefits of walking and being outdoors for both you and your dog, daily walks will become a fact of life. In fact, one study showed that dog owners spent an average of 22 extra minutes of walking per day – adding 2760 additional steps.
Walks help stimulate dogs both mentally and physically with new smells, sights, and sounds. This means a good long walk with your dog can actually help improve their behavior. A dog who’s been properly exercised will be tired and happy at the end of the day – a good combination for avoiding destructive or anxious behaviors. Walks are also a great bonding experience for you and your dog. Even if you have to spend most of the day at work, a long walk in the morning or when you get home can go a long way toward making your dog feel secure and content.
Your dog can also be a great exercise coach. When they need a walk, they probably won’t be shy about letting you know. No matter how tired or unmotivated you’re feeling, it’s almost impossible to say no to a wagging tail and excited bark. If your dog is too hyperactive on a leash to make walking with them enjoyable, consider a training class to teach leash skills so you can both appreciate the activity.
Add More Steps While Dog Walking
Your dog may be getting you to walk every day, but you still want to make sure those walks are long enough to reach your step goals. Here are some basic tips for getting the most out of your walks with your pal:
Switch it up
Your dog will probably be happy to walk with you no matter where you go, so switch up your daily route to keep yourself interested. If you’re just starting out with walking, start with shorter routes and work up to a longer walk.
Take steps when your dog rests
If Fido stops to smell the … roses or take a bathroom break, you can use the opportunity to get a few extra steps in by walking in place or pacing back and forth.
Find a good dog park that’s the right distance from your home and head there on your walks. You’ll know in advance how long your walk will be, and your dog will get a good play session in during each walk. This also allows your dog to play while you can get some extra steps walking in the park.
Play with purpose
If you let your dog off-leash or visit a dog park, keep up your walking while your dog plays. Rather than standing still to play fetch, walk around the perimeter of the park.
If you’re playing fetch or other games with your dog, don’t just wait around for your dog to bring the ball or stick back to you. Keep moving! Getting an extra 20 or 30 steps at a time really adds up at the end of the day.
Pay attention to spots that make your dog nervous, like a loud construction site or territorial neighbor’s dog. Making sure your dog is happy on the walk means you can comfortably walk longer and farther.
Increase the Intensity
If you need to make your dog walks more challenging, try finding a route with hills or a park with stairs to walk up or down. Walk as quickly as your dog can comfortably trot for a more intense walk. Just make sure to keep you and your pet hydrated and keep an eye out for signs of overheating on hot days.
What If You Don’t Have a Dog?
No pooch? No problem. You can still get the benefits of walking with a canine companion even if you don’t have a dog of your own.
- Many shelters and rescue operations need volunteers to walk their dogs. Ask around at your local adoption centers.
- If you work from home or have flexible hours, offer to walk dogs for friends who have 9-to-5 jobs, have just had a baby, or are dealing with a medical or family emergency. You’ll be helping others while getting in a good walk.
- If you really love walking dogs, consider turning it into a part-time job. With a little effort up front to line up clients, you can start getting paid while getting your daily exercise in.
Whether it’s your own dog, a shelter pup, or a friend’s dog, having a four-legged walking buddy can be a great addition to your workout routine. With the right walking route, an enthusiastic doggy companion will help you reach your step goals and improve your health through walking.
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