Most people already know that owning a pet can be good for your health. The CDC states that owning a pet can lower your blood pressure and reduce feelings of loneliness (1). WedMD mentions that pet ownership can lessen anxiety, boost your immune system and even help you get dates (2). What a powerful health supplement.
One of the best things you can do to repay the favor and keep your furry companion healthy and around for as long as possible, is to get him out of the house for a regular walk. This habit provides lots of benefits for Fido and can be just as good for you too. Getting out of the house lets Fluffy and Fido enjoy all sorts of new sights and smells. They get to check out that bush on the corner that every dog seems to stop and smell – as if they are reading the morning report. They can feel the wind ruffling their fur and watch the birds and squirrels dart in and out of the trees. All those new sensory experiences give their brain a work-out – which can really tire out those hyperactive pups (3). For you, getting out of the house and away from the daily grind can give your own brain a boost and make you even more productive when you get back (4). Of course, there are plenty of physical health benefits of a regular walk too. Regular, moderate exercise is great for weight control – which is a big problem in our house pets these days – and it helps keep joints healthy and osteoarthritis flare-ups under control.
If you want to get even more out of the experience, you can pair up a regular walk with a little training time. Working together with your pet to teach them new skills keeps your dog engaged with you, exercises their brain, and can make them more enjoyable to bring out and about with you. Plus, it can give you a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction to work together to master a fun trick or difficult obedience commands. Just make sure to keep it fun for both of you. Your dog will learn faster and will be more motivated and excited for the next training session if you make it enjoyable. Keep training sessions short, with lots of fun praise, games and even some healthy, low calorie treats and make sure to end on a positive note.
So, slip on a leash, a pair of tennis shoes and start raking in all the mental and physical health benefits of life with your dog!
- About Pets and People. (2014, April 30). Retrieved December 12, 2018, from https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/health-benefits/index.html
- Davis, J. L. (2004). What are the Health Benefits of Owning a Pet. Retrieved December 12, 2018, from https://www.webmd.com/hypertension-high-blood-pressure/features/health-benefits-of-pets#1
- Dodson, Dr. Nicholas (2014, December 11). Mental Stimulation for Your Dog. Retrieved December 27, 2018, from https://www.petplace.com/article/dogs/pet-care/mental-stimulation-for-your-dog/
- Steinhilber, Brianna (2017, September 2). Why Walking is the Most Underrated Form of Exercise. Retrieved December 27, 2018, from https://www.nbcnews.com/better/health/why-walking-most-underrated-form-exercise-ncna797271