7 October, 20
Taking dogs out on walks is one of activities most commonly associated with this kind of pet ownership. Most dog owners take daily walks for granted, and give them little to no extra or special consideration. It is simply part of their shared routines, but walks have the potential to be so much more. Walks are essential for dogs’ physical and mental health, allow dogs to utilise their senses in diverse environments, and promote ongoing dog-owner bonding. With a better understanding of this, owners will be able to make these more beneficial for their dogs as well as developing the relationship they share.
Walks are crucial to promoting good health in all breeds and ages of dogs. Similarly to humans, dogs require regular exercise to maintain healthy cardiovascular systems (heart and lungs), muscle tone, and appropriate weight levels. When most dogs are fed highly calorific carbohydrate-based diets that lack correct protein content, providing adequate exercise through regular long walks has taken on new levels of significance in recent years. However, when combined with a healthy and nutritionally balanced diet, regular walks allow dogs to thrive and reach peak physical condition. Regular walks are also important safeguards against overweightness and even obesity. Obesity causes numerous secondary health problems, and prevention is more important and better than attempting to cure it.
As highly sentient and intelligent animals, dogs experience mental and physical health. Canine mental health needs should not be underestimated, and are heavily tied to sensory and environmental stimulation. Put simply, bored dogs who are not stimulated by new environments and sensory experiences are unlikely to be happy dogs. Scent and hearing are two of dogs’ strongest senses, and should be regularly stimulated in new environments. This requires dogs to engage with new scents and sounds which are mentally rewarding and stimulating. Dogs enjoy exploring new areas, especially with their noses, and short regular walks which follow the same route do not facilitate this. Home environments tend to be somewhat stale, offering the same scents and sounds on a daily basis. Exploratory walks offer dogs crucial environmental stimulation, which in turn leads to overall wellbeing and happiness.
Dogs primarily learn by associating what they experience with specific emotions. By way of example, if good things happen when a dog is around certain people, it will associate them with positivity and come to like them. Thus, when dogs are able to enjoy their walks, that is one of the associations they make with the person accompanying them. This creates a strong bond between the dog and the human who walks them, and this relationship is more often than not reciprocal.