Walking your dog should be a daily activity in your home. It’s one of the most common ways dog owners stay active with their pet, but there are better (and worse) ways to go about it. Instead, begin easy like you would if you were trying a new fitness routine and build up your dog’s endurance. A goodrule of thumb is to walk two blocks for every 10 lbs. of dog and add a few blocks each week as long as you and your pup are up for it.
And you’ll benefit just as much as your dog. In fact, you can consider dog walking to be one of the great perks of dog ownership. In 2008 experts reported that dog-owning families had only half the risk of childhood obesity compared to families without dogs. And researchers have found that 70% of dog owners get at least 150 minutes of exercise every week, while only 40% of non-owners get an equivalent amount of exercise.
It isn’t always all good news though. The study showed a large percentage of dog owners – around 39% – didn’t walk their dogs for more than 10 minutes at a time. For most pets (or humans), this simply isn’t enough. This can make it difficult for dog owners to know how much exercise to provide. Too little, and the dog becomes bored, destructive and unhealthy. Too much and you risk damage to joints and exhaustion.
Another study found chasing balls and sticks was a risk factor for development of hip dysplasia and elbow abnormalities in dogs. However, these studies cannot answer the overall question, which is how much and what kinds of exercise pose how great a risk and provide how great a benefit. One study found exercise to be part of the treatment of carpal laxity, another joint abnormality seen in large breed puppies, and there is no question that exercise has many benefits, including reducing the risk of obesity and simply being part of a normal, enjoyable life for a puppy.
A time-honored game for dog owners is stick throwing. It’s a convenient alternative if you don’t have a ball with you – and seems to be a great way to provide extra exercise on a walk.
And then there are some very strange ways that some dog owners use to keep their dogs entertained. Come on, dog owners. Don’t say you’ve never left music or the TV on when you’ve left your pooch home alone so he or she would have some “company,” to maybe feel a little less lonely.