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Walking Your Dog: A New Survey

We know firsthand that it’s tough to keep a regular exercise routine. Even working at home, it’s difficult to tear ourselves away from the computer…but we do, twice a day, thanks to “reminders” from our dogs. They know, like clockwork, exactly when it’s time for the morning walk and the evening walk and they make sure we stick with our exercise schedule!

And we’re not alone. Apparently dogs are the driving force behind two-thirds of dog owners’ walks. A recent study on behalf of the Petcare segment at Mars, Incorporated found that nearly two-thirds of dog owners engage in exercise on a weekly basis because of their dog and that 29 percent of dog owners who engage in regular exercise other than walking do so because of their dog!

“The simple act of taking daily walks with your dog provides great benefits for people, pets and communities,” says Dr. Sandra McCune, research manager for the Human-Animal Interaction Research Program at The Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition and co-editor of the newly released book The Health Benefits of Dog Walking for People & Pets; Evidence and Case Studies. “Studies show walking can lower the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure, and may help combat obesity in both humans and pets. Walking a dog has also been shown to increase interaction among neighbors, fostering social cohesion. These are real, tangible benefits to having a pet.”

Mars Petcare’s The Power of Pets™ program focused its 2011 campaign on promoting dog walking as a gateway to increased physical activity. Launched in partnership with YMCAs across the United States, The Power of Pets™ helps raise awareness about the health benefits of pet ownership. This community-focused initiative explores, celebrates and communicates the relationship between humans and pets and the impact it can have on fostering healthier people and communities.

To help you get moving and take advantage of the all that the season has to offer with your dog, consider these tips:

  • While you don’t need a lot of expensive equipment to walk with your dog, make sure you have a comfortable harness and leash, and that your dog is trained to walk by your side.
  • Before you set off on a walk or run, check the weather –- heat stroke can be dangerous for you and your dog. Check that the pavement is not too hot for your dog’s paws and that you and your dog are well hydrated.
  • If you and your pet are ready to bring your workout to the next level, take your dog on a run with hills or vary your speed to help increase your workout.
  • Only run with breeds who can handle it. Many breeds are not meant to run for extended periods of time. If you’re looking for other ways to exercise with your dog, play a game like tag or Frisbee.

Before beginning any exercise routine, remember to always check with your doctor and your veterinarian. Then grab that leash and get on the move!

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