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Getting fit with your fur-kids during national walk your dog month!

Happy January Everyone! Who else made it a goal this year to get more exercise or even just getting more steps in 2020? I know I sure did! While I’m starting out in bites big enough that I can tackle, my goal by December is to be able to hit that elusive 10,000 steps! It has me thinking and I’m sure our fur-kids would make such goals if they could, so it’s fantastic that January is Walk Your Dog Month!

While it might be cold and more than a little bit damp outside, this month be sure to join me and other pet owners in getting up, getting moving and don’t let the we’t coast weather stop you from creating a great new habit that is incredibly beneficial to all of us! I know I, for one, need to remember to do this more often, and I’m sure I’m far from the only one who needs this friendly reminder and having it be Walk Your Dog Month – well, that is a great motivator to GET MOVING – even if it’s just down the block and back! Often, our biggest reason for not being able to exercise our pets (or ourselves, let’s be totally honest here) is being “too busy”. Walk your dog month creates a wonderful opportunity to set some small targets and make the commitment to get the habit of walking started with your pups and create happier and healthier pets – and selves! Walking is beneficial to our moods and is also a great way to bond with your fur-kid and work on socialization as well as getting fit. While getting cozy under your favorite soft blanket with a cup of tea, an awesome Netflix series and your fur-kids are AMAZING (and admittedly, a favorite pastime of my own in winter) what our fur-kids really crave is walking outside with their favorite humans.

Many dog breeds have been developed for herding, sporting and working and NEED to be active or that pent up energy gets released with hyperactivity, and they resort to destructive bad habits like chewing, digging and scratching. A tired dog is far less likely to act destructively to gain your attention. While exercise is great for our health and theirs, it’s also a great way to curb their unruly behavior and helps them (and us) sleep much better! Routine exercise also provides your fur-kid with confidence and some wonderful training opportunities along the way. Routine helps them feel comfortable with their surroundings, giving them confidence and enhance your pet’s view of the world. Even though routine can help create confidence, don’t forget to shake it up now and then and try someplace new or invite someone to come for a walk with you! Walks also expose them to new experiences, pets, people and situations making new situations less scary. It is also a great opportunity to teach or work on simple commands like sit, stay, come and heel. If you make walking every day and working on these tasks a habit for 2020, by spring, your fur-kid might just have the best pet manners on the block!

As well as a great tool to help your pet’s behavior and creating a fun bonding experience, it is simply great for your pet’s health (and your own as well). Did you know that between 50-60% of pets (both feline + canine) are obese? Much like in humans, this can result in health issues like arthritis, high blood pressure, kidney disease, some types of cancer and a host of other GI, heart, kidney and joint issues that can reduce their quality of life and life expectancy. Walking daily can help promote healthy digestive, cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems and even aid in digestion preventing constipation and allowing their bowels to work at a more optimum level. It can also reduce blood pressure, build stronger muscles, help joints from becoming stiff or sore and reduces the risk of arthritis.

That said, it is important to note that before starting any exercise regime it would be worthwhile checking that your dog doesn’t have any underlying health issues. Safety is always key for you and your pets so here are a few tips to help make for a safe + fun walk for you! So, before you start your routine, be sure to consider your pet's size, breed, age, health, and the walking environment and watch your pet while you’re walking. If they start panting or slowing down, you’ve gone far enough. If they used to go for miles and can only do a few blocks now, be sure to check in with your vet about potential health issues.

While walking is fun, it’s always important to be safe! So, here are a few tips to make your walk a little more safe + enjoyable!

  1. Wear brightly colored or reflective clothing, leashes, and collars.If possible, stay in well lit, public areas.

  2. Ensure that your pet has access to plenty of clean fresh water during and after your walk

  3. Protect your pet’s paws! Ice, snow, grit, and de-icers can cause sore paws so be sure to protect your pet's paws with booties if they’ll tolerate it and by washing their feet after a walk if they do not.

  4. Make sure your pet is warm enough, especially very young pups, older pups or pups with any health conditions like arthritis.

  5. Don’t forget the other necessities too like poop bags. Dog feces is a health hazard and it’s a code violation not to pick up after your pup in most cities and towns.

  6. Last but not least, don’t forget to pack some bite-sized treats for your pup to reward good behavior while you’re out as well as stave off any hunger pangs along the way.

No matter what the weather is outside, our fur-kids need their daily exercise + activity to stay healthy + happy. It is a great way to shake off those January blues, meet other pet owners + improve our health and happiness. Now bundle up and kick-off walk your dog month by getting moving today! Your pups (and your Fitbit) will thank you later!

Don’t be shy this month and be sure to share you and your pup’s adventures as you start creating great habits for 2020 with daily walks with us on social media!

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