In the animal world, January is labeled as “Walk Your Dog Month”. I would like to take a moment to share with you why walking and exercising your dog can be so beneficial, help them be more of that easy going pooch and keep them out of trouble and most important, healthy.
Our fun loving four legged companions need an outlet to release their tremendous amounts of energy, some breeds more than others. Too much built-up energy can result in destructive behavior and separation anxiety. Taking your pooch for even just a 15 to 30 minute walk a day is not only good for their physical health but their mental health as well. This also helps them spend their energy in a productive way. The sad truth is that dogs are unable to take responsibility for their own health. We as dog owners can sometimes feel as if, while we’re at work all day, they have plenty of time to run around and play. But do they really do this? No, they usually take this quiet time to just lie around and get some good naps in. So when we return from our day at work, they are normally fully energized and expecting us to entertain them and help expel their built up energy.
Walking your dog is good for their health and lowers their chance of developing obesity, which can cause Osteoarthritis and Diabetes. It’s a wonderful way to bond with your dog. Your dog loves you, and your dog loves walking, so walking your dog is like a mini lottery for them. Spending the time exploring new sites and smells with them strengthens and enriches your relationship as well as makes them more comfortable with those sites, noises, smells and surroundings. This is also a wonderful way for you and your dog to familiarize yourselves with your neighborhood and neighbors.
Now here, especially in Portland, OR, our weather isn’t always the best and being January, I thought it would be fun to share some winter exercise you can do with your dog.
- Play a game with your dog. Hide-and-seek is a wonderful way to get your dog up and moving as well as mentally engaged. You can hide a treat or their favorite toy, but it’s always more fun to make them come find you. Start by throwing a treat to get your dog to walk away from you, and then hide in another part of the house. This can definitely tire out your dog as he/she rushes around to find you, and it’s good to reinforce the “come” command.
- Dog treadmills and indoor walking. Believe it or not, dog owners actually do this! There are treadmills on the market designed specifically for dogs. But if price is not affordable, some have used a human treadmill. We don’t have any experience with dogs and treadmills but do advise caution. If you have any experience with this let us know how this works for you.
- Sign yourself and dog up for a class. There are fun classes out there for you and your four legged companion like agility, swimming and teaching them to sniff. There may even be an indoor dog park in your neighborhood to look into.
- Get outdoors anyway! Most of our bigger breed companions enjoy bad weather believe it or not. Even snow! Get out there and allow them to plow through the snow. Splash in a puddle.
Some helpful Dog Walking tips to keep in mind for those better days when the sun is shining:
- Aim for 30 minute walks if possible, this is ample time for your pooch to really release that energy.
- Always keep your dog on a leash. This is a Multnomah County rule unless you are in a labeled “Off Leash” dog park. Besides, this is always safer and helps with teaching good manners.
- Always supervise your dog. Dogs tend to find things that smell good to them, but may not be so good for them. Here at Fremont Veterinary Clinic, we recommend a safe 6’ to 8’ leash for best control. Please avoid flexi leashes. It’s always good to make sure your dog is wearing a nicely fitted collar or harness, one they can’t slip out of.
- Watch for approaching small children and other dogs. Sometimes we’re not sure how their dog or our dog is going to react, so it’s good to always be prepared.
- Make sure to bring a plastic bag or scooper to clean up after your dog. Dogs tend to use this time to mark and relief themselves. Having fresh water isn’t a bad idea either for our hot days and long walks.
- Make sure to have your dog properly identified. An example would be: Name tag and Rabies tag current and up to date. This helps if your dog was to ever break loose and become lost. Also if your dog is micro chipped, making sure that the registration and information associated with the microchip is all up to date.
Any dog parks you like to frequent and want to share?
Any good indoor activities you have found helpful in bad weather conditions?
Does your four legged companion have any fun walking outfits? Share a picture please.