We know the benefits of dogs: the wagging tail at the door, the unconditional love, the house guarding, the comedy.
Theres more. Dr. Scott Bea, a psychologist at the Cleveland Clinic, reports on a study of human-animal interactions at the University of Missouri. Hes a big fan of dogs adding important exercise in our lives.
The results indicate dogs could be called wonder drugs.
That dog cant walk itself, and so you have to get out and do it. By the nature of just walking some people walk an hour a day there will be health benefits, he says.
Results showed that older people who walked their dogs five times a week for 12 weeks improved their physical capabilities by 30 percent compared to people who walked with a friend. Human walking buddies tend to provide excuses for not walking, such as the weather. Dogs never have excuses.
The Weather Channels dog-walking calculator shows a 30-minute walk at a moderate 3 mph burns 129 calories.
A plus: Researchers found many of the human health benefits also apply to pets.
Something this important needs to be done the right way. Yes, theres a right way and a wrong way to walk a dog.
Most dogs need exercise. They become sluggish and drowsy without it. As with humans, exercise strengthens their hearts, lowers blood pressure and fights obesity. Unchecked, these problems will decrease life spans in both of us.
Your dog will tell you he needs exercise. He will tear around the house until tired. We often mistake this for exuberance. Hes telling us his muscles need a workout.
A good leash is woven nylon impervious to chewing. Chain leashes can injure you and your pet. Nylon is strong, almost chew-proof and offers excellent control. Choose four feet for small dogs and six feet for larger ones.
Longer leashes, such as those on reels, do not offer the control you need and allow the dog to roam onto property where he may not be welcome.
The first thing dog trainer Nancy Bremer will tell you is, You walk your dog. Do not let your dog walk you.
An untrained dog will be a miserable walker, always pulling and trying to have his way. A trained dog will walk beside you, occasionally stopping to investigate something but never pulling you over.
If you allow a dog to walk in front of you, this tells him hes in control. Keep him by your side, she says.
Dog trainer Cesar Millan suggests using a short leash for more control, but always keep your dogs safety in mind when making corrections.
He provides a snack after the walk to help cement the training.
ASPCA trainers use the red light method to stop pulling on the leash:
The instant the dog reaches the end of his leash and pulls, stop dead in your tracks and wait. When he comes back, ask him to sit. If he pulls again, repeat.
If another dog walker approaches, cross the street. This will prevent angry dog encounters.
Control your dog around children. He may see them as a threat.
Avoid passing barking dogs in yards. Remember, they are on guard duty.
Exercise will cause your dog to poop. Be a good neighbor and carry a plastic bag to clean up. A newspaper bag is perfect.
Dont over-exercise your dog. Start with short walks around the block and gradually build up length as he (and you) become stronger. Your dog will tell you when its time to return home. His tail will be drooping and no longer wagging. He may stop and want to turn around. His walk slows, and hes no longer interested in his surroundings.
Dogs like repetition and probably will want to walk the same path every day. They feel insecure walking outside of their area. If they have a bad experience with another dog, they will not want to return.
You can gradually expand the walking area but take it slow. Allow your dog to get accustomed to new places.
After you return, both of you will need a rest. Your dog will benefit from a calming petting session, which actually is a massage. Youll find your dogs muscles will be a lot stronger, and so will yours.
Reach Jim at 330-580-8324 or jim.hillibish@cantonrep.com.