Walking your buddy is so much more than just a way of exercising him. It stops him from getting bored, it's a behavior training opportunity and it teaches him how to behave in canine company. On top of all this, it gets you out and about.
Exercise and Health
A sedentary pooch can quickly become an overweight one, and that brings a raft of potential health problems with it. He also needs to an outlet for pent-up energy, especially if he's a lively pooch. Young dogs need around an hour of daily exercise, but some dogs bred for sports or herding activities may need much more. You'll benefit from having a well-exercised dog because a tired dog is better behaved according to experts at Montgomery County Humane Society.
Walking isn't the only form of exercise you can give him if you have a yard he can play in. But don't expect your dog to create his own exercise routine just because you've put him outside. Dogs don't self-entertain, so if you want him to tire himself out, play catch or fetch with him. If you're at work all day, consider getting an exercise buddy to take your pet out during the day. He'll be glad of the company and you'll have a happier, dog greeting you when you get home.
Walking your dog is a training opportunity. He needs to learn how to walk on a leash for a start. Dragging you along behind him is not an option, but if you don't assert your authority, he's more than likely to do just that. You can teach him to walk to heel and follow other commands, such as "sit" and "come," while out walking, especially if you can find an area where you're able to safely let him off the leash. Taking treats for him helps this process.
While you're out walking, your pooch is most likely going to meet other dogs. This enables him to learn acceptable ways of socially interacting with other pooches. It also builds his confidence so that when he meets new canine chums he isn't afraid. If he does show fear, taking him to a puppy training class is a great way of getting removing that anxiety. Animal behavior experts Daniel Estep and Suzanne Hetts say that a well-socialized puppy still likes a bit of rough and tumble play with other dogs while he's out for a walk, but he'll know when to stop and come away without any battle scars. You can also teach him that jumping on humans to greet them isn't acceptable either by getting him to sit when a person wants to say hello to him.
Like a child, your puppy wants to know the world. If he's confined to the house for too long, he'll get bored, and boredom leads to destructive behavior. A wild animal learns about his environment through his mother and other members of his clan. A domesticated animal only has that opportunity for a few weeks while he's with his mum and siblings. So, he's dependent on you to take him out so he can explore the smells, sights and sounds of his world, and the ASPCA recommends varying the places you take him to when possible. If you're a new dog owner you'll probably notice how busy your dog gets when he's walking; every nook, cranny and street light is an opportunity for discovery.
- Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images