January is Walk The Dog Month. But if you have a dog, you already know you have to walk it every day, so what’s new? Well, it turns out Walk The Dog Month is also a great way to get your own New Year off to a good start. Not only your dog needs a daily walk, but you should also reach the 10.000 steps a day! Want to know how? Here are a few ways to turn walking your dog from a chore into a treat.
Get the walking habit
Were you one of the thousands of us who made a New Year’s resolution to lose weight or get fitter? The good news is, your dog can help you to achieve this resolution. Walking your dog every day forces you to get into the habit of walking yourself. And research says that if you do something regularly for three weeks, it’s much more likely to become a habit, so by the time February comes, you’ll have got both yourself and your dog into a good place for the coming year.
Being outdoors is an excellent mental health tonic, especially at this time of year. Take the opportunity to de-stress, get some perspective and enjoy watching for the first signs of spring to appear.
Why dogs need regular walks
Like us, dogs can easily put on weight over Christmas, with all the little treats, we slip them and have less chance to get outside and exercise. Obesity can be a serious problem for dogs, causing a range of health problems, including arthritis and breathing difficulties. Lack of exercise can also cause behavioural problems, leaving dogs bored and under-stimulated. Getting your dog out for a good walk every day can really help with their general fitness and behaviour.
How to make walks fun for you and your dog
If you and your dog both enjoy your daily walk, it’s much easier to make it a habit. These tips will help to keep things fun for both of you.
Your dog needs to know you’re in charge, so walk confidently, and train them to walk beside or just behind you, not ahead, and without pulling on the lead. Reward good behaviour with treats.
Take a leaf out of your dog’s book and practise living in the moment, appreciating the sights, sounds and scents around you as you walk.
Leave all your screens at home and enjoy a dose of real life. Walk with a friend and spend some quality time catching up in person. Walking a dog is also a great way to get to know other people in your neighbourhood and bond over dog stories.
Change your route occasionally to stop it getting boring. Investigate new paths and explore your neighbourhood.
Dogs need to stay hydrated, even in cold weather, so give them plenty to drink before and after walks. On long walks, take a travel bowl and a bottle of water with you.