Why you should never miss a walk with your dog

Kövess Péter

2024. March 24 - Photos: Getty Images Hungary

Walking regularly is more important than you think. If you don't pay enough attention, it can have serious consequences in the long run.


You’ve probably thought it was okay to skip a walk with your dog and/or simply let them out in the yard instead. You’re not alone. A 2011 study from Michigan State University showed that only two-thirds of owners walk their pets according to a set routine. However, if regular walks are not taken, it can have a significant impact on the emotional and physical well-being of the dog.

Regular walking is important for several reasons

Regular walking is vital

First of all, dogs don’t exercise by themselves, for the most partwarns Stephanie Borns-Weil, clinical professor at Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine. The amount of exercise a dog needs is determined by several factors including age, breed and health. The optimum time can range from 30 minutes to several hours a day. But one thing is certain: every dog needs some form of exercise. Without it, they can increase their risk of obesity, which can be a source of many health problems.

“The typical yard just doesn’t offer enough stimulation to prompt an adequate amount of movement. Unless you’re spending time playing with your dog, they’re just going to sit there”, says the expert. It’s similar to you having to read the same book over and over again.

The garden can lack the right stimulation

However, your dog’s need for exercise is not the only reason to walk regularly. If you don’t give them the opportunity, it can lead to further problems by not giving your pet the mental stimulation that comes from exploring new things.

Dogs who don’t have these needs met are subjected to some of the same effects of long-term chronic stress on their health that people are, ranging from depression and anxiety, to problems with the immune system.

Let the dog explore

Dogs process the world through their sense of smell.  Therefore it’s important to give them the opportunity to explore and get new stimuli while walking. By comparison, while we have 6 million olfactory receptors, dogs have up to 300 million. This will enable them to sniff out what animals have been around. Also, it can provide them information about their gender and health.

But so often, humans hurry them along, prioritizing exercise (or their own schedule) over their dog’s interest in the world around them.

Experts say that old habits that put obedience first at all costs should not be followed blindly. There is no need for your dog to always walk alongside you in a disciplined manner and only sniff something when you give him special permission.

A free-sniffing dog is a happy dog

If your pet wants to sniff every blade of grass, it’s probably the best thing for them at the moment. Of course, as the owner, you have the reins. You can mark out the path for them and, after a while, take them to new areas, but it’s important not to nip their needs in the bud.

So the next time your pet is jumping around the door excited by the thought of a walk, but you don’t want to get up from your armchair, remember how important this is to them. Walking is not only good for them, but also for you, as spending time outdoors together reduces stress and anxiety and improves well-being and general health.

Even dogs that are considered lazy (for example english bulldogs) need exercise and regular walks. In this article we debunk some of the stereotypes that surround this “lazy” breed.

dog dog walking exercise Health mental stimulation Movement need for movement stimulation walk

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