As a dog and pet photographer in Toronto, I often hear people say that they do not need to walk their dog, that they can let it out in the back yard to do its business. Or even worse, if it is a small dog in an apartment, they let it do its business on inside on pee pads!
Dog owners - listen up! A walk is more than a chance for your dog to do it's business! Walks are one of the most important things you can do for your dogs!
Why are daily walks so vital?
• The most obvious reason - exercise! With exercise comes strong muscles and joints and helps your dog maintain a healthy weight, all leading to healthy aging and longevity.
• A walk provides the extremely important opportunity for sensory stimulation as dogs use all their senses as they enjoy their time outside. Sensory enrichment includes anything and everything that stimulates your dog's senses - sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. This keeps their lives interesting and prevents boredom.
• Daily walks will help with behavioral issues, by allowing them to channel any pent up energy or anxieties into exploring new surroundings and satisfying their physical and psychological needs. By preventing boredom, we can help the dog to to curb bad habits such as chewing and digging which are often a result of boredom.
• A walk allows for socialization as the dog encounters other dogs on his or her walk. By slowly introducing your dog to other dogs, you will teach your dog to be friendly and sociable. Remember, dogs are social animals who need to spend time interacting with other animals. Caveat: Some dogs may be leash aggressive. In this case you will need to work with a trainer on tips to overcome on-leash aggression. Always keep in mind your dog's need for his or her own space in these cases!
• Taking your dog on a daily walk builds a wonderful bond and trust between you.
• Daily walks offer a great opportunity to work on training, especially loose leash walking but also sits and stays.