Bethany Mihalik, CVT, CVPM, MHRM
Did one of your New Year’s resolutions include getting into better physical shape? If so, a four-legged friend may be able to help you achieve your fitness goals! To kick off your new routine, join us in celebrating “Walk Your Dog” month this January. Walking a dog just 20-25 minutes a day can bring about many health benefits for both you and your canine companion.
Many experts believe that walking may just be one of the best forms of exercise there is. A study, published last year in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, examined nearly 140,000 men and women in the United States and found that walking 150 minutes per week was linked to a 20 percent reduction in all-cause mortality. Participants also noted increased feelings of contentedness and social interaction as a result of their frequent strolls.
There’s no question that dogs also benefit greatly from daily walks around the block. According to a 2017 study by the Association of Pet Obesity Prevention, it was found that 56% of dogs in the United States are obese. Most dogs do not require an intense physical regimen in order to shed weight, and once daily walks have been shown to reduce body fat as well as decrease destructive behaviors.
No dog of your own to strut around town? Never fear! Many local shelters and rescues are desperate for volunteer dog walkers, and even offer “Lose a Pound, Walk a Hound” programs to encourage participation. Walking shelter dogs is one of the most rewarding experiences for both the dogs and volunteers. The physical exercise provides the pooches with an outlet to release any stress or anxiety that tends to accumulate in shelter environments. Exercised dogs are less likely to be passed over for exhibiting undesirable behaviors in their kennels, are more open to training and human-animal bonding.
So get out your leashes, and slip on your walking shoes - There’s no better way to help dust off the January blues!
Walk Your Dog Month Safety Tips:
1.) Wear brightly colored or reflective clothing, as well as leashes and collars.
2.) Stay in well-lit public areas
3.) Ensure your dog has access to plenty of fresh clean water during if on a long walk and afterwards.
4.) Protect your dog’s feet from the elements
5.) Make sure your dog is warm or cool enough