Walk Your Dog Month

Kick start your New Year by getting out in the great outdoors and walking your dog. 

Walking your dog is a fantastic way to walk off any excess Christmas weight, helps to shake off any January blues, socialize with other dog owners and it is great for you and your dog’s wellbeing. 

If you are leading a busy lifestyle, you may feel as if you don’t have time to take your dog out for a walk. Try adding a dog walk into your daily routine to help you get into the habit of going for walks. Whether it’s the first thing you do in the morning or after dinner in the evening; how many times a dog needs to go for a walk is dependent on its breed, although it is recommended that every dog should have at least one 20 – 30-minute walk per day.

Ade Adeniyi, medical director at Emersons Green NHS Treatment Centre, says “We see many people with osteoarthritis (pain and inflammation of the joint) and osteoporosis (thinning of the bone) who would have benefitted from regular walking. We also recommend walking as part of a patient’s rehabilitation from joint replacement surgery.”

“Studies have found that walking a mile a day for a year can increase bone density by almost 10% and reduce the risk of future hip fractures.”

“Movement helps build up bones, making it less likely that they will break. It also improves balance and flexibility, reducing the risk of falls in later life. As well as helping bone health, it boosts heart and lung health – and it is an excellent way to keep at a healthy weight, which in turn helps to keep pressure off your joints.”

What to always remember when taking your dog for a walk:

  1. Always wear bright colours or reflective clothing so that you’re visible to other people. This is especially important if you are walking on country roads or in low lit areas. Many people now opt for LED light-up dog collars to help their pet stay visible in the dark. Make sure when you are putting a collar on your pet you can fit two fingers between the collar and neck, this is too make sure it is not too tight. If there is redness or hair loss around the neck this could be a sign that the collar is too tight. If your dog allows it, put a harness on them instead of a collar as it allows for further reflective coverage.

  2. If you are going on a long walk, make sure you bring food and drink with you and ensure that your dog has access to clean water.

  3. Dress appropriately for warm or cold weather and wear comfy trainers or boots to protect your feet from blisters. Also, make sure your dog is at the right temperature especially if they are young, old or have a condition such as arthritis. In extreme weather conditions, be mindful of your dog’s paws. For instance, during the hot summer the concrete can get extremely hot, burning your dog’s paws.

  4. Always carry doggy bags in your pocket. Picking up your dog’s droppings helps to keep your neighbourhood tidy and eliminates the risk of humans or pets being exposed to harmful organisms such as E. coli, hookworms and salmonella.

  5. Make sure your dog is wearing an ID tag or has an up to date microchip with your personal number and your home address on. In the worst case scenario that your dog gets lost on your walk, ensuring they can be properly identified will help to bring them back home safe and sound.

  6. Remember to always ask other dog owners for permission before approaching them with your dog. Even if your dog is friendly it doesn’t always mean that every dog you meet will be. 

After your walk if your dog has been good, reward them with food and water and tell them that they have been good to encourage them for the same behaviour on your next walk. 

Walking your dog will provide shared happiness for you and your dog, it doesn’t just help you maintain a healthy weight, it helps you maintain a relaxed and stress-free life.