Walking the Dog
What does it really mean to us, and more importantly to the family dog.
There are plenty of reasons why we do it:
- Exercise is probably the first one
- To keep them fit and healthy
- To get a dog used to socialising with other dogs in public
- Perhaps some bonding between you and your new dog
- Or simply because we like to see them enjoying themselves
But what is a walk?
Take wild dogs for instance, they usually hunt early morning and early evening and rest during the day. Their home ranges vary considerably depending on food availability, those dogs that depend on livestock or wild prey may travel up to 20km but this is done at their liberty with the need to feed a motivating factor.
So I think walking dogs for long periods of time on bitumen and concrete may not be what most dogs would have in mind when it comes to going for a walk. What about the mini breeds doing masses of steps on tiny legs to keep up with one of ours or the dog that is ‘walked’ behind the cyclist or better still the dogs that lope for Km after Km with their fitness fanatic owners.
There are plenty of cases where symptoms have been aggravated or caused by these sorts of exercise.
So what can you do to help? First of all it’s not about us it’s about their enjoyment, be mindful of certain factors.
If you have an old dog of course their exercise routine won’t be what it was when they were young. Take two short walks (10 minutes each) instead of one longer one. If you live in a cold climate, be sure to put a coat on your old friend because their joints will feel the cold. If you throw the ball with them, throw it closer and fewer times. Remember, they will do anything to make you happy, so don’t assume that because they’re fetching the ball, they want to.
If you have a mini breed remember how many more steps they have to take more than you.
If you live in a hot climate use the coolest parts of the day be mindful of hot pavements and bitumen roads be aware of distance and if he’s dragging behind and can’t keep up, he’s telling you something.
There are many grounds and areas where owners can let their dogs off the leads (providing they are socialised and non-aggressive) this is the ideal walk for any dog as it allows them to exercise at their own pace.
A trip to a dog beach is heaven for any dog, for the young and fit it’s a chance to run like the blazes and play like an idiot, even an older healthy dog will have a spring in his steps and I know from personal experience that owners get the biggest kick of all seeing their dogs having so much fun being their own natural selves.
Don’t forget your poo bags, be mindful of others (not every one is a ‘doggy person’ like us) and clean up after your pet where ever you are.
If you think your dog may be experiencing discomfort while out on a walk call your Vet Cross and make an appointment for them to have a check up.