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Looking for motivation to stick with your walking routine? A furry companion may be your answer.
We all need a boost in motivation from time to time and research shows that dog walkers are more likely to meet their daily physical activity goals (source). In fact, a 2017 study found that people who owned a dog walked 22 additional minutes a day at a moderate pace. That adds up to about 2,760 additional steps per day!
These additional steps can encourage weight loss, decrease anxiety, increase energy, and help you sleep better.
Read on to find out what makes a dog a great motivator to walk every day and how to get started with a dog walking routine.
What Makes a Dog a Great Motivator?
A survey of dog owners, conducted at the University of Western Australia discovered that dogs are great motivators for walking because they:
- Are good walking companions.
- Provide support and motivation when exercising.
- Dog owners feel a sense of obligation to walk the dog.
- Dogs encourage social interaction with other people.
But What if you Don’t Have a Dog?
Evidently, walking a dog that is not your own can be especially motivating.
Here’s the deal…
A study conducted by the Sinclair School of Nursing and Research Center on Human Animal Interaction indicated that 72% of participants who were provided with a therapy dog for walks adhered to their walking program with an average weight loss of 14.4 pounds (6.53 kg).
Participants’ most commonly stated reason for adherence was that the dogs “need us to walk them.” Because, really, who can turn down a friendly dog when they want to go for a walk? This shows that commitment to a dog that is not one’s own may effectively promote physical activity.
You may be asking, where can I find a dog to walk that’s not my own? Here are some ideas:
- Most animal shelters and rescues have great options for volunteering, including dog walking.
- Ask a neighbor if they would like help with their dog’s daily walks.
- Sign up to be a dog walker and get paid! It is a fun and flexible way to make money while spending time with pups. Check out this article about dog walking apps.
How to Start a Dog Walking Routine
Now that you have a dog to walk, these are some recommendations for getting started with a walking routine that you will stick with.
- Establish a walking schedule. If a dog walk is on your schedule each day, you’ll feel more responsible for sticking with your program. Plus, your dog will also get used to the routine and remind you when it’s time to go for a walk.
- Wear a comfortable pair of shoes.
- Track your progress by wearing a fitness tracker or calendar.
- Vary your walking to keep your routine fresh. For example, walk on a trail at a park, walk in your neighborhood, or visit a dog park. You can also vary your pace or length of your walks. You and your dog will benefit from the challenge!
How Long Should You Walk Every Day with Your Dog?
According to PetMD, it’s generally recommended that dogs get 30 minutes to two hours of physical activity every day. That can be all at once, but most people break it up into two or three walks per day. If you and your dog are just starting out, a leisurely 30-minute walk in the morning and another before dinner is a great way to begin your walking routine.
The Best Dog Leash for Your Walks Together
I have walked so many different dog breeds from chihuahua’s to retrievers to pit bulls and have found that an anti-pull harness or a headcollar are great choices to make your walks together more enjoyable.
For super active dogs, the PetSafe Gentle Leader is a must-have. This headcollar instinctively redirects your dog’s tendency to pull by placing gentle pressure on pain-free points and eliminating pressure on his throat. This is the leader that we always used with our super active border collie. It was really a game-changer and made our walks so much more enjoyable for us and our dog.
It’s also important to not use a retractable leash. They can cause injury to you and your dog and are horrible when training your dog to stay next to you when walking. So, stick to a conventional leash for your harness or gentle leader.
Keep Your Dog Safe
While dogs are amazing walking companions you want to make sure you pay attention to signs of fatigue, thirst, and hunger. If you are going for a longer walk you may want to take along snacks and water for your dog.
Dog walking is an awesome opportunity to become more active. Grab a leash and give it a try!