January is National Walk Your Dog Month. While the history of designating the Northern Hemisphere’s coldest month of the year as “National Walk Your Dog Month” is unclear, the intention is one we can stand behind. As professional dog walkers, we compiled the following list of reasons why dog walks are important to dogs, especially this time of year.
Dogs Defy Weather
January isn’t the sunniest or most comfortable month to walk dogs. We can tell you from experience that many winter days are dark, wet, and somewhat challenging for those that spend time outdoors. Unfortunately for us humans, however, canids tend to love the outdoors – in any weather. Unlike ours, their species is built to defy winter weather for reasonable amounts of time.
Many of the dogs we walk get an extra pep in their step in the colder weather, likely because their coats are designed for low temperatures. Even small breeds like Dachshunds enjoy the cold. Others love to run in the snow, eating chunks as they trek in the freshly fallen flakes. Some dogs also enjoy the rain, jumping in muddy puddles and sniffing wet dirt as if it were a premium perfume
Despite dogs’ love of winter, many dog owners find themselves making excuses and skipping dog walks this time of year. It’s easy to discourage oneself from layering outerwear and boots when daylight hours are cut short and the couch beckons us. No matter how we feel about it, however, it’s important we recognize that weather is really only a deterrent for humans. In most cases and with the right equipment, dogs will happily take a wintery stroll around the block.
Dogs Love to Walk
No matter their breed, age, or size, dogs need exercise. Walking is one of the most enjoyable ways for them to simultaneously stimulate their bodies and their minds.
As we’ve discussed in the past, the number of daily walks dogs need and the duration of each walk is debatable. Most experts agree that size, breed, and medical history play an important role in how much exercise each dog needs. We’ve read that the average American dog owner walks their dog for slightly over 9 hours per week. But, there are breeds that need even more than that, as much as 2+ hours per day. These dogs need walks no matter what Mother Nature sends their way. Their wellness, peace of mind, and happiness depend on it.
In addition, regular walking helps dogs ward off obesity, dementia, and more. Walking our dogs helps humans just as much as it helps our pets because these benefits apply to us as well.
Dogs Crave Connection
When done properly, dog walks allow dogs to bond with their handler. They connect with us on a nonverbal level when walking with us. They also crave connection with their environment by exploring it.
Dog walks also represent an ideal way for dogs to bond and check in with other dogs. Walking together with other dogs, whether old friends or new, builds rapport and is a great way to introduce dogs or have them safely enjoy each other’s company. Even if dogs aren’t walking together, interacting, or meeting on walks, the act of safely and calmly walking in the presence of another dog, cat, child, etc. is a great way to practice loose leash walking and socialization.
Don’t feel bad if winter dog walks are out of your comfort zone. Next week, we’ll share our favorite dog walking gear for humans to keep you warm and safe in the winter months. In the meantime, check out our website and enlist the help of our amazing team to get your dog out for a walk or hiking adventure. To learn more about our services, contact us