We love our dogs for countless reasons – they’re cute, loyal, keep you company and love you unconditionally. But did you know that they actually help keep you healthier!? Owning a dog can keep you mentally and physically healthier which can even promote a better quality and longer life… pretty incredible if you ask me!
One of the main reasons they promote health and wellbeing in humans is because it encourages us to get outside and get active. Being outdoor with your dog is the best way to either start or finish your day – all you need is a spare 30 minutes a day to keep you both active for long enough. So why does it keep you healthier? Let’s find out below.
To help get some more insights I interviewed 2 people who are true advocates for getting outdoors with your pup:
Georgia, talking about the human perspective: a health nut, dog owner and founder of Melbourne activewear brand and do, All Fenix, for her tips on keeping healthy too.
Lisa, talking about the dog perspective: owner of Spot Dog Walk in Brisbane, dog lover and believer in health and wellbeing for our pets.
1. Walking your dog improves your overall fitness
A recent study in the US found that dog owners are 34% more likely to achieve the recommended 30 minutes a day of exercise than non-dog owners. Humans can often put off exercising when its cold, or they’re stressed or busy… but dogs are definitely not wired that way. In fact, when dogs don’t get walked or the opportunity to play, this can often build up their stress levels and sometimes cause anxiety or depression.
As we don’t want our dogs chewing up the house, owning one means that we get the opportunity to get outside daily. Feeling fit is so important to our overall health and wellness helping to boost our mood, prevent disease, manage weight and release endorphins promoting happiness. Sounds like a winner!
Georgia, All Fenix: Walking definitely has helped improve my fitness and strength. I like to set myself goals as well, for example hitting 10,000 steps a day or improving on the time it takes to get around the block. These goals will help maintain momentum and keep your fitness continuously improving.
Lisa, Spot Dog Walk: There is a long list of health reasons for your dog to exercise and there is equally a long list of benefits to US as well for walking with your dog. It is a great opportunity to bond with them - they provide unquestionable love, they listen to you at the end of a long day, they help us to switch off from our busy lives and unwind and of course, they get us out there moving as well.
2. Walking your dog helps build your bond
Walking and eating… I can’t think of 2 things my dog loves more than that. Can you? The importance our dogs place on these two events generally means that they form a bond, love and connection to the person who provides it.
Walking our dogs means valuable time together, something that is shared and enjoyed. Regularly walking with our dogs helps build and develop a strong bond with our pets, one that they especially value and love you for.
Lisa, Spot Dog Walk: Definitely, we have a very special bond with the dogs we look after. They definitely bond with those who bring joy to their day – whether it be walking, comforting, feeding etc. All our clients want to know that not only is their dog being exercised, socialised and had their day broken up with an outing but they also want to know they will be content for the rest of the day
3. Walking your dog helps maintain good physical health
Did you know that even a 30 minute walk daily can help you lose weight? Walking helps you maintain lean muscle and keep your metabolism going. A study in the US found that having a dog not only increases the likelihood of going for a walk, but also the quality of your walk. This means, moving faster and getting your heart rate up more regularly.
Maintaining a schedule of regular physical activity can also help prevent diseases in the long term such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer and arthritis. So we recommend grabbing your cute little fur ball and go for a walk at least once, if not twice, daily… they really are the best medicine!
Georgia, All Fenix: Well you don’t have to convince me! Walking, getting outdoors and general activity is a must! We all know the strong correlation between good health and exercise, so everyone get off your bums and get moving – no excuses!
Lisa, Spot Dog Walk: I think it would be wonderful if dogs were able to get out at least once every day. All dogs have different needs and different reasons for exercising but they all love nothing more than a change of scenery, exploring new smells and socialisation to stimulate their minds. The combination of both can help to alleviate a lot of issues which can otherwise arise… I don’t think it’s too different for humans, I always feel better after getting outdoors.
4. Walking your dog can boost energy levels and your mood
Who else has trouble sleeping!? Getting 8 hours sleep can be a real challenge in a busy world. But guess what, taking your dog for a walk each day can help you sleep at night. Amazing, right?! Getting a good night sleep is key for increased energy levels.
Having more energy throughout the day can help improve happiness, motivation and mood. When you walk, endorphins are released which helps improve the way you feel. Seems like a no brainer – time spent outside with your dog will improve your mood… that’s definitely something we want to be a part of!
Georgia, All Fenix: Walking my dogs id definitely my version of a happy pill. I love being outdoors, I love being with my dogs and I just feel healthy and happy after a good walk or run around the block.
5. Walking your dog can help you socialise
Do you have a friend who owns a dog? Are you both looking for some motivation to get outside more? Why don’t you catch up each week for a walk around the park? Much easier (and healthier) than catching up over a glass of wine… right? Making plans with friends is a great way both you to socialise but also for your dog to socialise. Socialising is just as important for our pups as it is for us… so mix it up and walk with a friend when you get the chance.
Or if you’re finding it hard to make arrangements with friends, the local dog park is one of my favourite places to meet like-minded owners. I will usually walk to the park, so I get my exercise in, and then let the dog off the lead to run around and make friends. It’s the perfect way to chill out after a long day of work!
Georgia, All Fenix: Dog walking is my socialising. Every Sunday afternoon I meet up with my girlfriends and go for a walk. It is a great way to catch up on the week and finish off the weekend feeling good. My husband and I also try to make time to walk the dogs together. We purposely leave our phones at home and use dog walking as our quality time together.
Lisa, Spot Dog Walk: Dogs are very much like humans and like to see and do different things, it's how we learn and how we find enjoyment in life. It gives them a chance to explore new landscapes and smells and learn how to behave/react to different stimuli. A well socialised dog can be taken to so many different places which makes including them in your outings so much easier.