Thursday's Thought: January Dog Walks
It might sound silly to suggest that dog owners need a month dedicated to dog walk awareness. Most canines will remind the family of their exercise needs at some point in the day, whether by pacing near an entryway or by exhibiting clingy behavior in general. However, mounting work chores along with the Polar Vortex that’s sweeping the nation are enough to make even the best pet owning professionals procrastinate. The New Year’s work load and cold weather are two main reasons why January is the perfect time for National Walk Your Dog Month.
Why Dog Walks Are Necessary
According to DogBreedInfo.com, the part of a canine’s brain responsible for olfactory processing is roughly 40 times the size of the same region in the human brain. With all that processing power, even a simple walk around the block gives a dog plenty to think about. Alleviating boredom through providing a pooch some outside time will give it much more inherent pleasure than its owner due to everything that can be gleaned by the enhanced sense of smell. Dogs can pick up on pheromones and other aspects of animals sharing the same outdoor space. For a dog living in a single pet household, this might be the pinnacle of its day: a much needed social outing (even if other dogs aren’t outside at the same time).
Beyond the mental workout, there are obviously physical benefits as well. By committing to a daily dog walk, owners will greatly reduce their dogs’ risk of developing increasingly prevalent health issues, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and osteoarthritis. This daily walk benefits dogs and owners alike, since about 25% of dogs are overweight or obese while 36% of people are obese. Although it’s true that the walk in and of itself will not help much calorically with weight loss, when paired with a proper diet and feeding schedule, the routine exercise can build muscle and make dogs more efficient at burning calories they consume.
Lastly, dog walks serve a third major function: providing an opportunity for public training. When all attempts at developing discipline are carried out at home, there is no assurance that a dog will adhere to its learned behaviors amidst public distractions. Reinforcing basic commands like sit, stay, and come while outside of the home will both strengthen the dog’s response and prove that the commands will work when they need to the most.
Even though it's especially cold this month, let's make sure to bundle up and get outside with out dogs to set the right tone for the rest of the year!