By: Amber Kingsley
The age-old expression “walk the dog,” actually has many meanings that don’t have anything to do with putting your canine on a leash. According to the Urban Dictionary online, it can also be an act of self-gratification that comes from manual labor or an acknowledgement of a request made from someone. But enough trivia, when we are actually exercising our animal, where should we take them and how far should we go with our four-legged best friend?
Obviously, much of this has to do with their age and possible health issues they could have. There is also their size and breed to consider. Think of it this way, walking a mile with a much larger dog, like a Great Dane, is vastly different for a Chihuahua to complete the same distance. Remember, you should always check with your veterinarian to make sure your dog is healthy enough for extenuated exercise sessions.
Generally speaking, a good rule of thumb for an average healthy dog to walk is about 30 minutes daily. So if the average human walks around 3 mph, if you do the math, you should be walking them about a half-a-mile per day. But then again, younger, more active dogs could go much further and may benefit from longer, more intense exercise sessions.
If you do have a more active dog, you could also break up these sessions up into more than one occurrence, say a 20 minute stroll in the morning followed by a more intensive 45 minute walk in the evening. A smaller or older dog could spend 15 minutes in the am and 15 minutes in the pm with you walking about. This will be beneficial for both of you in terms of exercise, activity and simply spending more time bonding with your pet.
The Great Outdoors
You always want to make sure wherever you walk your dog is safe, even a backyard or garden can present hazards for a pet. Birds, snakes, rodents, and many other different types of wildlife can be problematic for companion animals. Outdoor trails, beaches and other arenas can also be sources of unsafe conditions for dogs. When you are talking your dog out for a stroll, even if it’s an area considered to be an “off-leash” location, the safest place for them is at the end of a leash.
Living In Suburbia
When you live in the suburbs, taking the dog around the block is a common occurrence, and an average city block runs around 750 feet one-way. So if you complete one, large, city block, that’s equivalent to 3,000 feet (750 x 4) and that’s a little less than a half-mile, so you’re probably on track for a good, small, exercise session with your companion if you perform this feat daily.
Always keep the weather and temperature in mind when you’re walking your dog. Obviously a hot summer’s day is much different when it comes to their endurance compared to a cold, winter forecast. In hotter times, keep walks shorter and during the hours when the temperature is much cooler, early in the morning and later in the evening.
In colder climates, remember to examine your dog’s feet for signs of distress that come with lower temperatures. In a suburban setting, their feet could come in contact with and retain chemicals such as salt that are commonly used for snow and ice removal. In country areas, check their paws for rocks, dirt and other debris they could bring home with them.
In any event or circumstance, it’s probably a good idea to wash their feet daily and check their paws regularly for possible injury from their walking excursions. Also keep up with your regular veterinary check ups to make sure they’re happy and healthy while walking with you.