Walking your dog on a daily basis is highly important for your dog’s physical and mental well-being. Most simply, a walk provides exercise for your dog and is an opportunity to take a potty break. However, walking is also needed to satisfy the migration instinct in dogs, so playing in the backyard or a park is not a substitute for walking your dog; such activities do not offer the same mental stimulation as a walk. During a walk, your dog is gathering information through smell, sight, and sound on how the territory has changed since the last walk, thus exercising the dog’s mind as well as its body.
The bond with your dog can be strengthened through a walk, and it is a great opportunity to train your dog in various obedience and social skills as you encounter other dogs.
Walks help reduce weight issues, digestive problems, and constipation in many pets, and keep dogs healthy, agile, and limber. Walks also stop dogs from feeling restless all day, and can help reduce problematic behaviour. Behaviorists believe that that dogs who are taken for daily walks are better behaved, less destructive, less obsessive and have reduced separation and dominance issues.
It is important to walk your dog and not let your dog walk you. The correct way to walk a dog is to walk it beside or behind you. Never let a dog walk in front of you, as this reinforces the idea that the dog is dominant over you, which can lead to many behavioural issues. It is important for the mental health and stability of your dog to show that you are the “alpha”, or pack leader.
There is no definite number of times a dog should be walked each day; it depends on the breed, size, and health condition of your dog. Most dogs benefit from at least one half hour walk a day, while high-energy dogs require more exercise. A good general rule is to walk your dog for at least 15 minutes, twice a day. Daily aerobic exercises such as fetch, running, and tug-of-war are also highly recommended.