Taking your dog outside should be more than a quick bathroom break. Sharing the great outdoors with your canine companion is vital to having a healthy and happy pet.
The more time you spend outside together, the more opportunities you’ll have for mental stimulation, physical exercise, socialization, and training opportunities.
Fresh Air & Sunlight
Even with bad weather and shorter days, getting outside does wonders to improve your dog’s health.
In most places, outdoor air quality is better than indoor. Our homes are generally full of toxins off-gassing from plastics, carpets, and household cleaners. Fresh air helps minimize your dog’s exposure to this indoor chemical cocktail.
Since we also share much of the same brain chemistry with our dogs, we each use sunlight as a natural antidepressant. As winter days get shorter, our brains produce less serotonin, which can have an adverse effect on our moods. Outdoor sunlight — not filtered through glass — stimulates our retinas, which cue the brain to produce more serotonin, elevating our mood.
A study from the Norwich Medical School found that dog walkers were more physically active. Even on the coldest, wettest, and darkest days, they spent more time outside than non-dog owners did on long, sunny, and warm summer days.
Regular activity burns calories and is an excellent way to keep the pounds off — for you and your pet. Daily walks with your dog are effective and fun ways to combat a sedentary lifestyle and boost overall health. Research from Michigan State University shows that people who owned and walked their dogs were 34 percent more likely to meet federal benchmarks on physical activity.
As our dogs age, immobility becomes a health problem. Your dog’s joints need to move to stay lubricated and healthy. Walking, running, or playing outside is the perfect opportunity to keep your dog mobile.
Regular outings also help your dog regulate her digestive system. Most dogs like to stay on a consistent bathroom schedule. Giving your dog routine trips outside to relieve herself can prevent constipation and bladder infections.
Like humans, dogs do not like to be bored. They are curious explorers. Getting outside with your dog is the perfect constructive release for his pent-up energy.
Walking and playing outside allows him to channel his interest in a positive direction and helps build trust and confidence in you and their surrounding environment.
Regular outings can also reduce behavioral problems like barking, digging, chewing, and excessive licking.
Getting outside to explore new trails, meet new people and dogs, and sniff new smells is excellent mental stimulation for your dog.
Another benefit to sharing that outside time with your dog is the mental hygiene it provides to the human. A study by the University of Liverpool revealed that dog owners are motivated to take their dogs on walks because it makes them feel happy, not because of other health and social benefits.
Walking with dogs meets the emotional needs of both owner and dog alike.
We are typically the focus of our dog’s life. All activity — food, rest, walking, playing — is controlled by us. What better to strengthen the bond with our pets than actively engaging with them in outdoor fun?
Going on walks is also a great time to alternate exploration with training. You can work on commands such as “heel,” “sit,” and “stay.” One of our favorites is teaching a release command like “OK” or “break.” This teaches your dog that he is under control on the leash until you say “break.” Then he is free to go explore and sniff the environment.
Your dog is the perfect outdoor buddy. Always willing to go with you, rain or shine.
Engaging in active play with your dog will help you both stay healthy and mentally fit. Plus, it may just be the best way to express to your dog, “I love you.”
If you have questions about leashes, harnesses, collars, or our favorite dog toys, please chat with us at the shop. We’re passionate about helping you, and your pup get outside!
1. Yu-Tzu Wu, Robert Luben, Andy Jones. Dog ownership supports the maintenance of physical activity during poor weather in older English adults: cross-sectional results from the EPIC Norfolk cohort. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, July 2017 DOI: 10.1136/jech-2017-208987
2. Mathew J. Reeves, Ann P. Rafferty, Corinne E. Miller, Sarah K. Lyon-Callo. The Impact of Dog Walking on Leisure-Time Physical Activity: Results From a Population-Based Survey of Michigan Adults. Journal of Physical Activity and Health, 2011; 8 (3): 436-444 [abstract
3. Carri Westgarth, Robert Christley, Garry Marvin, Elizabeth Perkins. I Walk My Dog Because It Makes Me Happy: A Qualitative Study to Understand Why Dogs Motivate Walking and Improved Health. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 2017; 14 (8): 936 DOI: 10.3390/ijerph14080936