Hello and happy New Year. I’m delighted to share an article with you written by Sloan McKinney which is very timely after the excesses of the festive season. Sloan McKinney is a journalist based in Southern California. After writing about pop culture for a number of years, she has recently begun writing for a new audience. Inspired by DeAnthony, her cat, as well as her dog Max, Sloan now hopes to help other pet owners guarantee their animal companions happy and healthy lives. Twitter: @SloanKinney
How Far Should You Walk Your dog
As all dog owners know, walking your dog is just part of the ritual for a pet owner. Although some people may dread the daily walk, it doesn’t have to be a chore. It can be a great time for you to bond with your dog, and it’s also a nice way to get exercise for both of you.
Too Much of a Good Thing
On the flip side, some dog owners may take the daily walk a bit too far. If you’re the type of person who really enjoys exercise outdoors, you may wonder if there comes a point where you walk your dog too much or too far.
While most dogs can tolerate relatively long, vigorously paced walks, every dog is a little different. A person who’s in good physical shape may not tire after a long walk in the heat, but that same walk may turn into a tortuous experience for your dog who isn’t used to such daily walks.
Determining the Average Walk
A tolerable walking time for one dog may not work as well for another dog, especially if they’re different breeds. A long-legged chocolate lab certainly can walk faster and farther than a small pug, which makes it difficult to determine the optimal distance for a dog to walk.
For this reason, it’s good to think of a dog walk in terms of the amount of time you’re on the walk, rather than considering the distance traveled. Even though the pug may only travel a short distance over the same amount of time versus what the lab travels, both dogs would receive the same amount of exercise, which is the important factor in benefiting the dog’s health.
A good amount of time to use for an average dog walk is about 30 minutes. Certainly, some dogs can walk for a longer time with no problems, but shooting for a goal of 30 minutes to start is a good plan. Some dogs may tolerate two walks during the day totaling 30 minutes better than a single 30-minute walk.
Building Your Dog’s Stamina
If your dog has not been walked regularly in the past, but you want to begin an exercise program, you’ll need to build up the dog’s stamina over time. Just as you would build up slowly when starting your own exercise program, your dog needs to build up its walking time slowly.
Don’t necessarily expect your dog to walk for 30 minutes the first time, even if the dog may act as if it wants to walk that long. If you overdo it on the first day of the exercise program, you could have a sore dog the next day, leaving the dog unwilling to take a walk. It’s more important to establish the daily routine of walks, rather than overdoing it a few times, and then only being able to walk sporadically because the dog is in pain. Or overdoing the exercise program could lead to a dog becoming prone to vomiting or diarrhea.
Depending on your dog’s weight, age, and breed, consider starting with a 10- or 15-minute walk. Then add time every few days, as long as your dog seems to be tolerating the current walking time well. Eventually you’ll build up to your walking time goal, whether it’s 30, 40, or 50 minutes, gaining the benefits of exercise the entire time.
Don’t get frustrated with the dog if it seems to struggle with the walk for a while. Older dogs and heavy dogs may struggle when starting an exercise program… just like we older and heavier humans struggle at first with our new exercise programs. Stay positive with the dog and provide a lot of praise on your walk to ensure your dog’s exercise program will last for the long haul.