By Katie Walsh
Check out my awesome Fitbit stats from yesterday:
No, I didn’t go for a run. I will concede that I worked out, but that’s not why I totally schooled my family members in our weekly Fitbit step competition. The bulk of that 18,875 came from the simplest of places: walking my dogs!
As it turns out, January is National Walk Your Pet Month, so I’m here to tell you all the wonderful reasons why you should lace up your sneakers and take your pooch for a stroll.
1. Your dog will be healthier
I’m not the only one in my family who blasted through her step goals yesterday:
(Yes, our dogs have activity trackers too! This one is the Whistle, which also provides their GPS location in case they get lost.)
Getting on the scale is the first thing your dog is going to have to do any time he or she goes to the vet, just like you when you go to your doctor. Chubby dogs may be cute, but the reality is that letting your dog become overweight is pretty unhealthy for them. Walking them regularly will help them offset the calories they get from eating treats when they’re being good (and let’s be honest -- they’re all good dogs).
Walking them will help their mental health, too. When dogs aren’t exercised enough, they can go a little crazy in your house. If you’ve ever had a dog totally destroy your place while you’re gone, it may be because they’ve not been given a place to get their energy out. Think of them like toddlers who need to run around on a playground in order to settle down enough at night.
And going for a walk helps their mental health, too! When your dog is outside with you, you will be able to provide instruction on leash manners as well as let your pup sniff all the wonderful aromas of the great outdoors. You know how you feel mentally exhausted after a long day at work? The same thing will happen for your dog after a good hike.
2. You will be healthier
I started off this post with my Fitbit stats, and I will tell you for a fact that hit my daily step goal way more often now that I have dogs to walk than when I didn’t. That part may be anecdotal, but this next bit from the Mayo Clinic isn’t: According to the Mayo Clinic, walking can help you maintain your weight, prevent or manage conditions such as high blood pressure, strengthen your bones and muscles, improve your mood and improve your balance and coordination, among other benefits.
When you take your dog for regular walks, you’re ensuring both you and the dog will be around for as long as possible. That’s really what we all want, right?
3. You can donate to Rural Dog Rescue!!!
Have you downloaded the Wooftrax app yet??? If not, do it now and select Rural Dog Rescue as your shelter choice! With Wooftrax, you click a button every time you’re about to go for a walk to track your mileage. The app, which is funded through sponsorships and advertising, will donate money per mile to RDR. It’s just about the easiest way you could raise money for a great cause -- the more money RDR gets, the more dogs they can save. And who doesn’t want to save all those dogs?!
4. You will strengthen the bond between you and your dog
The minute I say, “You guys wanna go for a walkies?” my girls FLIP OUT. It’s literally the best thing I could say to them at any given moment of the day. My pups love being outside, smelling the city, looking out for squirrels and exploring new places. They seriously could not be happier than the moment every day that I grab their leashes.
And seeing them happy makes me happy! I’m by no means a perfect person, but I’ve given them a loving home environment, and they’re doing great. I think of all the other places they could be right now if Rural Dog Rescue hadn’t plucked them from their overcrowded shelters in North Carolina… **shudder**. In any case, our daily walks keep all of us in a very happy place.
5. Be honest: Would you get ANY fresh air right now otherwise?
I don’t have to tell you how cold it is outside right now. Nor do I have to tell you that all I really want to do is curl up in a blanket with a mug of hot cocoa. But fresh air is good for you, and if you lack any and all other motivation to go out and get some, do it for your dog, at least.
6. You can explore new places
I live over near H Street Northeast, so we’re within a stone’s throw of Kingman Island. We walk the trails there regularly. Other places my dogs and I have explored together include the U.S. National Arboretum, Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens, Theodore Roosevelt Island, Lincoln Park, Anacostia Park and so many, many more!
You’ve gotta let your dog outside the house at some point, so you might as well do it in a scenic setting, right?
I know that walking your dog isn’t always the easiest venture. This is D.C., after all. We work long hours, we have social lives, we have family obligations. The weather is searingly hot in the summer and blisteringly cold in the winter. It may seem like there are just not enough hours in the day to make walking your dog a reality.
But, I’m asking you, this National Walk Your Pet Month and every month, make walking your pup a priority. There are just so many benefits, I can promise that you won’t regret it.