Taking care of dogs comes with many responsibilities, including feeding, grooming and medical care. But one responsibility that doesn’t cost any money, just a little time and effort each day, is that of exercising the family pet.
It might come as a surprise then that recent studies show how regular exercise for dogs is greatly lacking. One such study shows that one in three dogs in Britain alone is considered overweight. In that same study, we’re informed that one in three of these same dog owners are also overweight.
HOW YOU & YOUR PET CAN BENEFIT FROM DAILY DOG WALKS
As a house sitter, part of the territory is ensuring that the family dog gets well exercised according to their normal routines, as described by the home owners. And, by taking as little as 20 minutes of exercise per day, the rewards of walking a dog can be reaped by both you and the dog(s).
Let’s start with the benefits to the dog:
Most dog breeds are programmed to get plenty of rest each day.
Let’s face it, dogs like to spend a lot of time lounging around mom and dad’s bedroom, the kitchen or by the front door. But, as much as they like to lounge, they also need their daily workout.
Without regular movement and exercise, dogs can become depressed or bored because their brains aren’t being stimulated. Depression and boredom in dogs can lead to some very destructive actions. For instance, an under-exercised dog may start to chew at or destroy items within or around the home.
For some dog owners, who don’t give their pets enough exercise, they are likely to come home to discover their dog has chewed a piece of furniture, wrecked a pair of shoes or upended a houseplant.
As well as fulfilling the purpose of stimulating their brains, dogs also need daily exercise for their overall health and well-being. If a dog is under-exercised, they can quite easily become overweight. And, an overweight dog can be prone to all sorts of medical conditions, such as canine diabetes, heart disease, breathing difficulties, and damage to joints, bones and ligaments.
Of course, it’s always good to get advice from vets about the amount of exercise your dog will need, especially as a puppy. Certain breeds that suffer from hip problems, can in fact be over-walked as pups, so this is an important consideration too. When you’re house sitting always consult with the home owner and check how often, and how long your charges should be exercised for.
What about how walking a dog effects the health of humans?
As mentioned, the health effects for dogs are just one side of the equation. The health effects of walking a dog on the owner are also not to be ignored.
Another study by the University of Missouri-Columbia, observed that participants who walked a dog for just 20 minutes a day, five days a week, lost an average of 14 pounds (almost 6.5 kilos) in one year.
Think about that for a moment – one simple walk a day for only five days a week lost that much weight over the course of only one year. That’s weight lost and also not weight gained which could possibly be the result with no other exercise!
So, by simply putting a harness on the dog and stepping outside for a brief walk, you and your dog can benefit greatly.
Walking is not only healthy in terms of weight, it also increases the heart rate which leads to better respiratory stamina. The combined effects of losing weight and increased stamina can help prevent many of the same bad things in a human that it does in a dog – diabetes, heart disease and poor mental health.
GET STARTED WITH A SIMPLE ROUTINE
Now that you know the effect of regular exercise on you and your dog, the next and often hardest step, is putting a plan into place.
We all live such busy lives these days and finding the time to consistently exercise your dog for a decent period of time can be difficult. How often have you simply opened the back door to let your dog have a quick run around in the garden when running late for an appointment?
So, if you know it will be hard for you at first, my recommendation would be to start with a short but steady walk close to home. Even if you exercise yourself and your dog for 10 minutes each day, you can think of this as 10 more minutes of exercise that neither of you were getting before.
As time goes by, you’ll realize the benefits and this exercise will become much easier as your pace increases. Now’s the time to step it up to a longer time-frame.
Ideally, when fully exercised, a dog will be getting at least one to two 30 minute walks per day. Some breeds of course require much more exercise and this is something you should consider when either taking on a new dog or when applying for house sits.
Whatever level of exercise you settle on, you and your dog will soon benefit from the rewards of this increased exercise and daily routine. And it’s good for both body and mind. You might find this time beneficial for clearing your thoughts, de-stressing or to focus on your schedule more positively.
The great thing too is that no matter whether it’s raining “cats and dogs”, snowing profusely or it’s zero degrees outside, your dog will seldom say no to a walk. This should be motivation enough to get that all important exercise routine under way!
So now can you see how pet sitting and dog walking can really help you get in shape and keep your dog healthy and fit?
Emily Conklin is an author for Gladwire.com a happy, uplifting news site and social community on Facebook.
When she’s not writing she enjoys skiing, traveling and playing with her bunny.