Your dog is your best buddy, your companion, your loyal cheerleader. There are about 90 million dogs in the US, serving in many capacities, from fur companion to guard dog to assistants of people with physical or mental disabilities.
Research shows that less than 33% of people actually walk their dog. Most dogs spend time in their yards or homes. But research also shows that walking your dog is beneficial to both you and your dog. A 30 minute walk, three times a week can reduce weight, lower blood pressure, increase energy and give both of you an improved sense of well-being.
Walking your dog regularly can also help with your mental health, especially in areas of anxiety, depression and loneliness. Walking alone can be quite solitary. And sitting in the backyard is the same experience for your pup. But getting out, together, whether it's an amble in the neighborhood, exploring a new hiking trail or meeting up with other owner/dog teams, feeds the social side of both you and your dog. Your bond is strengthened as you reach outside your comfort zone.
Dogs are creatures of habit and routine so getting into a new habit becomes easier when your faithful companion is counting on you. He may just be the encourager you need to create new healthy habits in your life as well.
Building Your Dog's Confidence While Walking
Mix Training and Walking - Use the opportunity while walking to refresh those sits, stays, waits and of course, walking WITH you and not pulling you. Carry small treats and reward your dog throughout your walk for being alert to your direction.
Choose Different Terrain - City walking, country walking, sidewalks, trails. Exposing your pup to as many different scenarios while walking makes it more fun and builds confidence. Learning to behave while on a city sidewalk or while moseying past a field of cows will ultimately teach your dog to behave in all situations.
Find Time for Off Leash Play - If possible, find a spot where it's legal and safe for your dog to play off leash. This may be a fenced area or dog park. Remember to take a toy with you on your walk to take advantage of this fun activity.
Switch It Up - Changing your route or routine will keep things fresh for both you and your dog. So be creative!