You know you should walk every day. You want to walk every day. You have every intention of doing it, but it’s to actually get up and do it.

It’s much easier when you walk with your friends, but they sometimes skip it because of appointments, bad weather or wanting to sleep in. Consider walking with your dog instead. If asked it he wants to go for a walk, he will jump at the door in anticipation. He won’t give you an excuse for not going. Not only will the walk benefit you it will be great for your dog, too. If you don’t walk for your own health, think of your dog’s health.

A daily walk provides an outlet for your dog’s excess energy. If he can’t expend some of this energy, he can become anxious, bored, nervous or destructive. A walk with you can keep him calmer. A calm dog is more likely to pay attention and focus on you when you are training him. It also gives him a great chance to bond with you.

A dog explores his surroundings through his senses so a walk gives him both mental and physical stimulation. He is exposed to a variety of smells, sights and sounds. As he gets used to them, he will become more confident and less fearful around traffic, garbage trucks, skateboards, wheelchairs, mailmen and other unfamiliar objects. Anything new or noisy won’t be seen as a threat.

     A walk with you also provides opportunities for socializing. He will meet other dogs, cats and people and will become comfortable with them. As his confidence builds, he will develop the social skills to interact appropriately with them.

If you haven’t been walking with your dog and he is more than six years old, is overweight or has a history of heart trouble, consult with your vet. Start with short walks of a few blocks and gradually increase the distance and pace. If he seems tired, stop and take him home.

The best place to walk is where you can walk on a path and he can walk on the grass. If your only choice is the sidewalk or street, build up distance slowly so his foot pads get conditioned. If his paws get a little sore, take a break for a couple of days. He will quickly build up the necessary calluses. If possible, take your walks about the same time every day. He will come to expect it and his enthusiastic reminder that it is time may overcome your reluctance to go. Pick a time that appeals to you and is convenient. If you have a friend who has a dog or see someone walking a dog at the same time as you and your dog, invite them to join you for the walk. If could make the walk more fun for all of you. The worst thing that could happen is that the other person would say no.

When you are walking your dog, keep him on a leash unless you are in an off-leash area. Supervise him closely around children and other dogs, especially those he doesn’t know. Bring plastic bags to clean up after him and dispose of the bags properly. Be sure he is wearing an I.D. tag in case he gets lost. Keep his shots up to date. Bring water for both of you. Avoid walking in extreme temperatures. In the late spring or summer, a walk in the early morning or late evening might be better. Save the mid-day walks for late fall and winter.

A regular walk of 30 to 40 minutes five or more times a week can lengthen and improve the quality of your dog’s life and you will have a reliable walking buddy. Walking your dog gives you a reason to get moving, enjoy the outside and perhaps get fit and healthy yourself.

If you need a dog to share a walk with visit the Pittsburg County Animal Shelter at 1206 N. West Street in McAlester. The phone number is 918-423-7803. The hours are 10:00 until 5:00 Tuesday through Friday and 10:00 until 2:00 on Saturday. The adoption fee is $20 for a dog and $15 for a cat. All have been spayed or neutered, microchipped and vaccinated.

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