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Medical research has shown that both ownership of pets and taking exercise by walking is beneficial to human health, so why not combine the two for a pleasurable way to fitness!

Power walking while listening to an iPod may be trendy but is not as relaxing as walking the dog and nor is there the motivation to take the exercise every day as iPod, although groovy, do not bounce around saying "let's go, let's go" or meet you at the door with a leash.

All dogs enjoy a walk and in many cases it is not only beneficial to the owner's and dog's health but it helps prevent some behavioural problems in the dog. Many small dogs may obtain sufficient exercise in their own backyard to remain physically fit but it is a deprived animal which never goes beyond the fence. Walking provides the variety in the dog's life, the opportunity to explore new sights, sounds and smells, to meet new people and dogs and to participate in an activity with it's owner.

Walking should be a safe and pleasurable activity for dog and human and the dog should always be on lead to ensure that it is safe from traffic, aggressive dogs, unlikely to become separated from it's owner and also, importantly, unable to intrude on the activities of other people in the park, beach or street.

Unless the dog will walk on a loose lead without pulling or surging ahead walking will become onerous. Local dog training clubs can assist with getting the dog to behave on lead.

An important command for all dogs is "leave" - meaning cease investigating whatever has taken the attention and return to the owners side.

When the dog is walking in the correct position it should be praised and spoken to in encouraging tones. The dog should be encouraged to sit when it comes to the kerb or while waiting for lights to change. This ensures the dog doesn't surge ahead into the path
of traffic. If the owners meets an acquaintance and stops for a chat the dog should be encouraged to lie down quietly while waiting for the walk to resume.

Walks should ideally be varied, some days take a different route. Owners lucky enough to live by a park often make the walk a social outing for dog and owner and many friendships have formed this way.

Before commencing any walk the dog should be allowed to relieve itself on its own property. Walking should not be seen as a time to allow the dog to soil a naturestrip rather than it's own backyard.

Accidents do happen and all dog owners should walk with a plastic bag as a means of cleaning up faeces deposited by their dog.

Some breeds of dog require a great deal of exercise and before obtaining a new dog careful consideration should be given to the ability to provide the daily needs. Most breeds, however, will be happy with a daily walk at a medium pace.

Dogs are creatures of habit and come to expect their walk at the same time every day so you are likely to meet the same familiar faces, both human and canine, each day. What better way to widen your social circle.

Petcare Information and Advisory Service Australia

Last Update: 19/04/07 13:25 Views: 3291

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