The daily walk is crucial for all dogs. It is important for your dog to receive daily physical exercise and mental enrichment not only for their overall health but to also prevent boredom. To find out how much exercise your particular dog needs daily see here.
Taking your dog for a walk allows them to release some pent up energy. In addition, it provides mental stimulation by way of the sights, sounds and smells they come across as well as social enrichment. To learn about the six categories of mental enrichment for dogs see here.
The consequences of not providing sufficient stimulation, physical and mental for your dog can have some unwanted results.
Consequences of not walking your dog
The lack of exercise in dogs can have some unwanted effects on their physical, emotional and mental health. A dog that never leaves their property is likely to become bored, frustrated and have unreleased energy. Some of the side effects for a dog that doesn’t get walked can include;
- They don’t get that most important exercise. This can have numerous effects on their health. Their muscles become weak making them more prone to injury and joint problems. Their cardiovascular system doesn’t get the use it needs resulting in potential heart issues and a weakened immune system.
- Dogs that are bored and frustrated are highly likely to develop behavior issues. This can include destructive behavior, nuisance barking, digging, and escaping.
- Your dog may not learn the social skills required that can only be learned from social interaction. A dog that hasn’t learned how to communicate and get along with other dogs can find themselves in a dog fight. This is dangerous for both your dog and you.
- They don’t get an opportunity to explore the environment. Dogs are naturally curious. Walking allows your dog to see, smell, and hear new things, and gives them a chance to learn about their environment. Not getting this opportunity can affect your dog’s confidence making them timid and frightened when they encounter new situations.
- Walks for a dog are an excellent opportunity to stimulate their minds. They do this by the sights, sounds, and smells they come across. Keeping a dog’s mind active is just as important as physical activity for the body.
Benefits of walking your dog daily
Benefits for your dog
Regular walks for your dog provide them with numerous benefits including physical health, weight management, mental and social stimulation and helps to prevent boredom.
Boredom is one of the major causes of behavior problems in dogs such as destructive behavior, nuisance barking, digging, and even escaping. Dogs that are walked regularly are less likely to develop unwanted behavior.
Obesity in pets is associated with a number of medical complaints including osteoarthritis, cardiovascular disease, liver disease, and insulin resistance. The main contributor to a dog being overweight is obviously calorie intake, however, exercise does contribute to weight management.
Regular walks and exercise also benefit your dog’s gut health and digestive system. In addition, it also helps to improve their sleep.
Regular exercise also has benefits for your dog’s mental and emotional health. A dog that is bored, frustrated, and full of pent-up energy is more likely to feel down or even depressed.
Walking your dog is also great for building and strengthening your bond. It is an ideal opportunity for training and behavioral development and will provide the foundation for a trusting relationship.
It is also an excellent opportunity for social contact with other people and dogs teaching your dog important social skills and increased confidence.
Benefits for you
Dog owners enjoy numerous benefits from walking their dogs regularly. Studies have shown those dog owners that walk their dog several times a week receive many health benefits.
Benefits include improved cardiovascular fitness, lower blood pressure, increased muscle tone, and stronger bones. In addition, you can benefit from reduced stress and improved mental health.
Keeping your dog healthy can also have financial benefits. A healthy dog is less likely to need to go to the vet as often saving you money.
There are also social benefits. People who walk their dogs are seen by other people as friendly and approachable.
Alternatives to walking your dog
There may be numerous reasons why you are unable to walk your dog. This can include
- the weather is horrible and simply not suitable. For ideas on how to exercise your dog inside see here.
- the weather is too hot and it would be unsafe to walk your dog. Learn more about how to exercise a dog in hot weather here.
- you are unable to handle your dog on a leash. Consider getting a dog trainer to help with this issue
- you simply don’t have the time or energy due to working long hours or other commitments. See no time to walk a dog for some helpful ideas.
- due to having a disability or health issues, you may be unable to walk your dog.
- your dog has poor health, is overweight, is old, or has an injury. It is still important to exercise your dog, but it is a case of providing the right balance. Insufficient activity will affect their health while too much may cause them soreness or even pain. In the case of an injury, you should consult your vet as to what is the best cause of action.
An alternative that you may wish to investigate is to consider hiring a dog walker or taking your dog to doggie daycare. To learn whether or not doggie daycare would be suitable for your dog see here.
Here are some other exercise ideas on how to exercise your dog without walking. Some of these activities are high intensity. To prevent injury you should start them slowly to allow your dog’s muscles and tendons to warm up.
A Flirt pole is like a giant cat tickler for dogs. It has a long handle with a bungy type rope with a lure or toy attached to the end. You simply move the lure along the ground around in circles or in different directions as your dog chases it. This activity is ideal for a dog as it works the whole body and strengthens their muscles. Be sure they have a good “leave it” command and don’t allow them to destroy the toy. It is important that this be a controlled exercise.
View Flirt Poles on Amazon
Playing Fetch with your dog is another fantastic way to burn pent-up energy. Most dogs are generally ball or toy crazy can play this for hundreds of throws. A great alternative is to use an Automatic Ball Launcher so your dog can play Fetch by themselves. For more information check out “Automatic Ball Launchers for Dogs”
Most dogs can chase and catch a ball. But a Frisbee requires a little bit more skill, coordination, and timing. Roll the Frisbee on the ground towards your dog. They will instinctually want to grab it in his mouth. Once you’ve accomplished this, try tossing it at a very low level first to your dog. If you feel like your dog is ready to go to the next level, toss the disc a little higher and further. Great energy burner and you may be amazed at your dog’s agility and acrobatic skill.
Make use of a treadmill
Walking on a treadmill is not going to be a substitute for going for a walk, but a least it will provide some release of physical energy. Once your dog is trained to walk on the treadmill you can fit in any other small tasks you have to do while they walk. Obviously, you will need to stay nearby and supervise for safety.
Set up an agility or obstacle course in your backyard. You can use items you have around the home, build your own agility or you can get reasonably priced agility sets on Amazon. You can include tasks such as the weave, hurdle jumps, tunnels or jumping through hoops or a platform to jump on and stay.
Many dogs are keen swimmers. Swimming is a great exercise for a dog as it burns energy and uses all the muscle groups, in particular, the front legs and shoulders. It is also a low-impact activity so doesn’t put a strain on the joints and tendons. It is a good exercise for dogs recovering from injury. See “What is Canine Hydrotherapy” to learn more.
Tug of War
A firm favorite of all strong dogs. Make them crouch and pull back to use extra energy. Ensure that this is a controlled game and they release when you want them to. Also, a great way to build muscle and strength.
Dog toys that move on their own
There are many dog toys available that shake, rattle, roll and move about on their own. These types of toys are great to get a dog moving as they are more interactive. See “Dog toys that move on their own” to learn more.
A Jolly Ball is a nearly indestructible ball for dogs that they push and chase around. They come in a variety of sizes, styles and are also available with a handle or rope attached for tug of war. These are particularly popular with herding dogs, Pitbulls and Staffies, and also many of the terrier breeds.
Check out the video to see what great exercise and fun they are for dogs.
Mental stimulation and enrichment
Exercising your dog’s mind is just as important as exercising their bodies. In fact, mental exercise can tire a dog just as much as physical exercise.
All dogs need an outlet for their minds. If they are not provided the opportunity to challenge their minds they will come up with their own ways to achieve this. This usually manifests itself in bad behavior such as excessive barking, digging, escaping, and other destructive behaviors. Read “Mental stimulation and mind enrichment for dogs” to learn about the 6 types or categories of mind stimulation a mental enrichment and some great ideas to provide this.
Some ways to provide mental stimulation and enrichment include;
Puzzle toys are probably one of the best ways to challenge their minds and test their problem-solving skills. For dogs with high intelligence, try to find puzzle toys that are a bit more challenging as they tend to work these out quite quickly. Check out “Top puzzle toys for dogs” for my top picks.
A Snuffe Mat is another great way to provide for your dog’s natural digging instinct and to provide mental stimulation and relieve boredom. A Snuffe mat is a mat that is made of fleece and you can hide dry food or treats into it.
If you are someone that is good at crafts you can try to make one yourself or check out the range of Snuffle Mats at Amazon.
This automatic rolling treat ball from Petgeek is activated by a soft touch from your dog and can last for up to 7 hours. Requires two AAA batteries and goes into sleep mode after a period of no activity.
Provides physical exercise and mental stimulation as they figure out how to release the treats. Can hold up to 380ml of kibble or small treats(sized up to 0.3 inches). This is ideal for the home-alone dog also.
View the Petgeek Automatic Rolling Ball on Amazon,
Scenting and nose games
Dogs can have a keen nose. Playing scenting and nose games helps to provide mental stimulation. Read “12 Scenting and nose games for dogs” for some ideas.
Provide your dog with good strong chew toys. Chewing is a great way to occupy them. In addition, chewing releases endorphins and helps to relax a dog. Many dogs hold stress in the jaw.
For more on the benefits of chewing and the best chew toys click here.
Teaching new commands and tricks is also excellent to provide mental enrichment. A popular game that involves learning is to teach them the names of their toys. Dogs can learn hundreds of words and names.
Dog enrichment box
To make an enrichment box you simply need a larger cardboard box, some smaller boxes, empty toilet rolls, and newspaper. Put treats the toilet rolls, smaller boxes or wrap them in a newspaper and fill the box up. You can also put in a chew toy or stuffed Kong so they have something to settle down with when they are finished.
You may have a mess of shredded paper to clean up. But what are a few minutes of tidying for hours of fun and enrichment for your dog?
Watch the video to see how to make an enrichment box for your dog
The daily walk is crucial for all dogs. It is important for your dog to receive daily physical exercise and mental enrichment not only for their overall health but to also prevent boredom.
The consequences of not providing sufficient stimulation, physical and mental for your dog can have some unwanted results. This can include poor health and obesity, sadness or depression, and more than likely result in behavior issues.
If for some reason you are unable to walk your dog on a regular (preferably daily) basis, try out some of the ideas above so your dog doesn’t miss out on the benefits that walking provides.