Why Walks Are a Dog’s Best Friend. 5 Reasons Your Pup Needs Daily Strolls

Exercise

One of the major reasons to walk your dog regularly is to provide them with physical activity and exercise. Dogs require exercise to maintain healthy muscles, bones, joints, and organ function. Walking is the ideal form of exercise because it is low-impact and incorporates the entire body, engaging muscles in the front and back legs as well as the core. According to an article on the Jet Pet Resort blog, walking provides a range of physical benefits, “help[ing] build and maintain a healthy musculoskeletal system, increased lung function, and a stronger heart.” The article emphasizes that “every dog needs regular exercise” to stay healthy. Texas A&M Veterinary Medicine also recommends physical activity for dogs to maintain proper weight, strengthen their bones and muscles, and help cognitive function. Walks meet dogs’ exercise needs while avoiding the high-impact of running, which can stress joints. In summary, daily walks provide essential exercise to keep dogs physically fit.

dogs walking to get physical exercise and stay fit

Mental stimulation

Going for walks provides important mental stimulation for dogs through new sights, sounds, and smells. According to PetMD, mental exercises can make dogs even more tired than physical exercise, which is especially important for high-energy dog breeds (https://www.petmd.com/dog/general-health/ways-to-keep-dog-mentally-stimulated). When on a walk, dogs are using their senses of sight, hearing, and smell to take in new information from their environment. This provides mental enrichment and helps prevent boredom.

According to PetsBest, dogs need at least 20 minutes of mental stimulation per day, although this amount can vary by breed, age, and individual dog (https://www.petsbest.com/blog/mental-stimulation-for-dogs). Going on regular walks gives dogs much-needed mental stimulation to keep their minds active and engaged. The sights, sounds, and smells on a walk provide an important change of scenery and sensory experience for dogs.

Socialization

One of the main reasons dogs need walks is for socialization. Getting out and about allows dogs to interact with both other dogs and people, which is critical for their development (Source). As this article discusses, pet socialization ensures a dog’s ability to react to the world in a healthy way, without fear or aggression. Walks provide the ideal opportunity for dogs to gain positive experiences with people and animals in their neighborhood.

dogs socializing with people and animals on walks

Pet socialization starts early, and walking a puppy is one of the best ways to socialize them during this critical phase. As this source explains, socialization teaches puppies to make friends, listen to others, and have fun exercising with both people and fellow dogs (Source). Continuing these walks as a dog matures ensures they become a friendly, confident, and well-adjusted adult dog.

In summary, daily walks allow dogs the chance to regularly interact and socialize with their community. This socialization builds confidence, comfort, and positive associations with the world around them (Source). For well-balanced and happy dogs, walks are an essential form of social enrichment.

Prevent boredom

Bored dogs will often engage in destructive behaviors like chewing furniture, shoes, or pillow stuffing. This happens because dogs have a lot of pent up energy and a need for mental stimulation when left alone for extended periods. According to the AKC, “Dogs were bred to work and they have energy that needs to be discharged through activity and mental stimulation” (source). When dogs don’t get the physical and mental stimulation they need, they find ways to entertain themselves which can be detrimental.

Taking your dog on regular walks is crucial to preventing destructive boredom behaviors. Walks allow dogs to satisfy their innate needs by providing physical exercise, mental stimulation through sights/sounds/smells, and a change of scenery. Preventing boredom through walks helps avoid negative behaviors and strengthens the human-canine bond.

Build bond with owner

Walking together strengthens the bond between dog and owner. According to Dog Training – The Importance of a Strong Bond, “Bonding is a life-long process with your dog. Your dog will listen better, trust you more, and forgive you quicker when you accidentally step on a paw if your bond is strong.” Going on regular walks provides quality one-on-one time for a dog and owner to connect. The shared experience of exercise and exploring outdoors helps build trust and understanding. Spending this dedicated time together forms a foundation of loyalty and affection in the dog-owner relationship.

walking dogs strengthens the bond with owners

Training

One of the major benefits of walking dogs is that it provides excellent opportunities to reinforce training. Having a leash on during walks puts dogs in a more attentive “work mode” where they are more focused on the owner. This allows owners to practice various obedience commands like “sit”, “stay”, “leave it”, etc. in a new environment, which strengthens the dog’s understanding and response (Rover, 2022). The changing sights and sounds on a walk also present great chances to reinforce training around distractions. With patience and tasty treats on hand, owners can train loose leash walking and get their dogs accustomed to strange people, animals or objects during walks. By making training part of the normal daily routine, dogs learn to generalize commands and behave properly regardless of the situation.

Sources:

Rover. (2022). A Trainer’s Perspective on Daily Walks for Dogs. https://www.rover.com/blog/walk-trainers-perspective-daily-walks-dogs/

Scent stimulation

Going for walks allows dogs to experience a variety of new smells that stimulate their senses. As scavengers, dogs rely heavily on their sense of smell to gather information about their environment. According to the AKC, their sense of smell is 10,000 to 100,000 times more acute than humans. This means dogs can detect scents that owners cannot even perceive.

Exposing dogs to new outdoor smells on walks provides crucial olfactory enrichment. It satisfies their instinct to sniff and supports cognitive function. Indoors, their scent exposure is limited to familiar household odors. The great outdoors offers an endless buffet of smells for dogs to explore. New scents trigger the reward center in their brains, making walks highly stimulating.

Incorporating scent games into walks adds another layer of mental enrichment. Hiding treats in the grass or bushes for your dog to find encourages them to use their nose. This nosework provides physical and mental exercise. Overall, the smells dogs experience outdoors are an essential form of sensory stimulation and environmental novelty dogs need.

Change of environment

Getting out of the house for a walk gives dogs a stimulating change of scenery from their everyday indoor environment. According to this article, enriching a dog’s activities and surroundings helps prevent boredom and frustration. A walk allows a dog to experience new sights, sounds, and smells that provide mental stimulation. Additionally, this source notes that a daily change of environment is excellent enrichment for dogs. The sights and scents on a walk encourage dogs’ natural exploratory behavior in a way that indoor play often cannot. Simply getting outside the house provides dogs with novel sensory input that engages their brains.

change of scenery provides mental stimulation for dogs

Elimination

One of the primary reasons dogs need walks is for elimination purposes. Going on regular walks allows dogs the opportunity to relieve themselves outside rather than inside the home. According to Masterclass, taking dogs out for bathroom breaks is an essential part of potty training puppies. Additionally, the article explains that taking dogs out frequently can help prevent serious health conditions that may arise from dogs holding their urine or feces for too long.

As noted in this article from PetSafe, most experts recommend taking dogs outside to relieve themselves at least 3-5 times per day. This includes after meals and first thing in the morning. Establishing a solid bathroom schedule ensures your dog has sufficient opportunities to ‘go potty’ in an appropriate outdoor location. Walks provide the perfect time for dogs to eliminate.

Improves Overall Health

Regular walks support dogs’ physical and mental health in numerous ways. According to the Better Health website, “The health benefits of dog walking include lower blood pressure, stronger muscles and bones, decreased stress levels, and improved cardiovascular fitness” (https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/dog-walking-the-health-benefits). Going on frequent walks keeps your dog active and at a healthy weight, while also providing much-needed mental stimulation. As VCA Hospitals states, “Regular walking has health benefits for both you and your dog and will help prevent obesity, which is a significant problem in both species.” Ultimately, taking your dog on consistent walks is one of the best things you can do for their overall physical and mental wellbeing.

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