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Celebrating Walk Your Dog Month
January 15, 2024

January is Walk Your Dog Month! Of course, you could say every month is Walk Your Dog Month. That’s not incorrect! Our canine companions need to be walked daily, not just for sanitary reasons, but also for exercise and mental stimulation. Here are some tips from a local Leonardtown, MD veterinarian on taking your furry pal for a stroll.

Why Is Walking My Dog So Important?

Unless you have a fenced yard, walks are essential for sanitary reasons. However, that isn’t the only reason. Fido also needs the exercise, stimulation, and change of scenery. 

Exercise really is one of the big ones. Dogs need regular exercise in order to stay healthy, just as people do. The amount and type of exercise your dog needs depends on his age, size, breed, and health. Some pups need an hour of vigorous exercise every day. Others will be just fine with a short walk. For specific information, please consult your veterinarian.

Those strolls are also important for Fido’s entertainment. Walks provide mental stimulation, and also let your canine buddy enjoy a change of scenery. Even if your furry buddy does have a yard to play in, staying in the same area all the time can lead to boredom. This in turn can lead to other behavioral issues. If your dog becomes bored, he may try to amuse himself by digging or chewing. Dogs get a lot of information from their noses, so sniffing that tree down the road could be a very educational experience for him.  Just letting your pooch sniff things can help beat the Bored Doggy Blues.

Walks are also great bonding opportunities. Your canine pal really just wants to spend time with you!

Don’t forget that there are benefits for you as well. Even short walks can have a significant impact on your health. 

Some perks of walking your pup include:

  • Improved Mental Health
  • Reduced Stress
  • Better Physical Fitness
  • Better Sleep
  • Lower Risk Of Heart Disease

You may also find social benefits. You and your pooch may both make friends with some of your neighbors on those strolls!

If I Have A Yard, Do I Still Need To Walk My Dog?

Definitely! You might not need to walk your canine friend as much as you would if you didn’t have that outdoor area. If you just want to let your pup go pee after dark, then it makes sense to just let him out. However, the exercise and stimulation mentioned above are still important. 

If you have a yard and are taking time to play with Fido, your furry pal will not become extremely distressed if you skip a walk here and there if you have a yard. However, if you often skip walking your dog, it may cause problems.

How Do I Keep Walks Fun For Fido?

We have a few tips for this as well.

  • Remember to change your route up regularly. Just taking Fido to the same spots every day isn’t very exciting for him. 
  • Work on training.
  • Meet up with a friend! 

What Gear Does My Dog Need?

First things first: make sure your dog has a comfortable harness or collar and a sturdy leash. There is a good reason why harnesses have become so popular. They will not restrict your pup’s breathing if he pulls, making him more comfortable. They also prevent your canine pal from slipping out.

In terms of leashes, retractable leashes are very popular. They are fine in some situations, but can be dangerous in others. Don’t use these near rivers, busy roads, or cliffs, since they could be dangerous. Also, they can be dangerous in crowded places: Fido could get tangled up with another dog, a person, or even a tree. It’s not a bad idea to always carry another leash, even if it’s a small one.

Some pups may need specific gear. For instance, a reactive dog may require a muzzle. Dogs with small heads, like Greyhounds, might need a Martingale collar, while small dogs should always be harnessed rather than leashed. Ask your Leonardtown, MD veterinarian for specific advice.

How Often Do Dogs Need Walks? 

This varies from pup to pup. The schedule will also change over time, and will also depend on your pet’s age, breed, size, and whether or not he has a yard.

Puppy owners need to take their pets out several times a day, especially while housetraining. Adult dogs may only need to go out a few times a day. (As a general rule, adult dogs shouldn’t go more than 8 hours without a walk.) Seniors need shorter, but more frequent walks.

In general, we recommend walking your dog at least once a day for about 15 to 20 minutes, even if you have a yard. Dogs without yards will need to walk more frequently.

Consult your Leonardtown, MD  vet for specific advice.

What Should I Take With Me To Walk My Dog?

Even if you’re just taking a stroll around the block, you’ll want to grab a few things. 

We would suggest the following:

  • A phone
  • A portable phone charger
  • Flashlight
  • Spare Keys
  • Water
  • Waste Baggies
  • Gloves
  • Treats

Tip: Pick a specific coat or pouch for taking your pup out, and keep everything you need in your pockets when you walk Fido. You will only have to grab one thing on your way out!

How Can I  Stop My Dog From Hauling Me?

Fido is a very good dog, but he has a few bad habits, such as pulling. Try changing directions when your pooch does this. Eventually, your dog will realize that pulling does not only not get him where he wants to go, but actually gets him farther away.

Consult your Leonardtown, MD veterinarian or a pet behaviorist if you are having difficulty breaking this bad habit.

What Safety Measures Should I Take When Walking My Dog?

You should always put safety first: both your own and your dog’s. Here are a few things to remember:

  • Always take a phone with you.
  • Watch the ground, and steer your pet away from things like broken glass and litter.
  • Watch for holes or wires as well. 
  • If you listen to music or podcasts, don’t turn the volume up too high. You need to be able to hear things like brakes, horns, shouts, and barking.
  • You’ll also need to be aware of spots where snakes, scorpions, and other critters could be hiding. Places like branch piles, debris, old logs, and nooks and crannies make tempting hideouts.
  • Don’t let your dog get ahead of you when crossing driveways, parking lot entrances, or intersections. 
  • Keep Fido leashed at all times (except in fenced areas).
  • Be extra diligent at night. Once the sun has set, stick to well-lit, busy areas and save your explorations for later.

How Do I Protect My Dog From The Weather?

Here in Maryland, we have all seasons, so Fido may deal with both heat and cold. Whether it’s hot or cold outside, you’ll need to take extra precautions. In summer, bring water whenever you’re going to be out for more than a few minutes. It’s also important to be careful about the terrain, as hot asphalt or tar can burn your pup.

Some dogs will need a jacket or sweater in winter. Your canine buddy’s paws will also need extra attention when it’s cold: salt, sand, ice, and chemical deicers can cause chemical burns and blisters when it’s cold.

Do you have questions about your dog’s health or care? Contact us, your Leonardtown, MD pet hospital. We are here to help you if you have any questions about your dog’s health or care.