You may wonder how fast you should walk your dog for him or her to get the most out of a walk. Walks provide a healthy energy outlet, keep your dog’s muscles and circulatory system working correctly, and will stop your dog from packing on the pounds. A dog who does not get enough daily exercise through walks can resort to other activities such as chewing, barking, or rushing around your home. It also helps to have a goal in mind that can play a deciding factor in how fast your walk.
There are several things to consider when thinking about your walking speed. Is your dog in good physical condition? Does your dog have any medical conditions that might require a faster or slower pace? These are questions you can discuss with your vet. Certain issues such as ACL surgery and obesity will affect how long and how fast your dog is able to walk. Pushing a dog can keep him or her from fully recovering and from enjoying the walk. Just like humans, dogs slow down as they age. It is best to stay tuned to your dog’s needs and to slow down if necessary when you switch from adult dog food to senior dog food. You are trying to do what is best for your dog, since walking is an essential part of a happy, healthy lifestyle. Dogs who do not get daily exercise are more likely to suffer from diabetes, hip dysplasia, and heart disease. They are also more likely to exhibit signs of anxiety such as barking, whining, chewing, and pacing. Every dog is different and will have different needs, so pay attention to your dog’s health and try to set an objective before starting a walking routine.
If the goal of your walk is to improve your dog’s mental health, a leisure stroll would be most suitable. This opens your dog up to new scents, sights, and sounds, allowing him or her to explore.
If you would like to focus more on mental health, different walk routes will keep your dog alert and will give the opportunity to be adventurous. Sometimes bringing along a toy and treats to have your dog find or carry will also improve your dog’s focus and cognition skills. Another way to help your dog’s memory is to see if he or she can find the trail home again. Avoid getting lost, but do allow your dog to take the reins and explore where he or she wants to go. The key here is to stay slow enough to let your dog sniff, potty, and be exposed to new things. If you go too fast and don’t let your dog interact with the environment, he or she won’t actually retain this information. The speed of this kind of walk usually involves a lot of stopping, a sagging leash as you stick close by, and your dog most likely will not be panting very hard by the time you get home.
Some dog owners worry about walking too slowly. If you are focusing on getting your dog to potty or use mental skills, this shouldn’t be your main concern. As long as you are moving forward and using this time to challenge your dog’s mind, you will have a meaningful walk. However, some dogs want to take in everything as fast as they possibly can. This is where you want to teach them to “stop and smell the roses.” Your dog may pull ahead and walk several paces in front of you, trying to get you to hurry. This is poor walking behavior, and you can use positive reinforcement to show a dog what the proper walking speed looks like. By not giving in to your dog’s demands, you are staying in control of the walk and making sure your dog gets what is necessary.
Some dog owners worry about walking too fast. Dogs need aerobic exercise in order to maintain cardiovascular health and to burn fat. The key in this situation is to maintain a steady pace. A brisk walk is recommended by most vets if you can maintain it for more than ten minutes. Your dog should be able to trot at your side on a slacked leash and maintain a constant speed for at least thirty minutes. Signs that a dog has had too much include being unsteady on his or her paws, excessive panting and drooling, and being unresponsive to both vocal commands and hand gestures. These are serious signs that it is time to go home, rest, and rehydrate. Dogs with shorter legs may require a slower pace, whereas dogs with longer legs may require a faster pace from a walker. Regardless of your dog’s leg length, he or she should maintain that brisk trot to achieve aerobic exercise. Speed should be increased gradually, giving your dog time to get used to a speed over a period of regular walks. If your dog meanders and sniffs about, this is completely natural. This usually occurs when your dog is curious, but occurs very frequently when your dog needs to pee or poop. It is important never to rush a dog when doing his or her business, and to never try to get the dog to walk before finishing.
It is your duty as a dog owner to make sure your dog gets daily exercise that maintains and improves his or her quality of life. Smaller dogs (generally those under 30 pounds in weight) can maintain a speed of 1.5 mph for 30 minutes, while larger dogs (those 30 pounds and over) can keep pace with the average walking speed of humans at 3 mph. In the end, it is entirely up to what works best for you and your dog to get the desired benefits out of any particular walk. If you are still concerned, Swifto can actually calculate the average speed of a walk. When you hire one of our walkers, this information is available to you on your dashboard.
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By Callie T.