Walking your dog has countless benefits, as you may have heard. The mental benefits of spending time outdoors include cutting boredom and staving off depression. The physical benefits of daily walks include a decreased risk of obesity and stronger joints. Walks help keep dogs happy and healthy, and you might see similar health benefits as well! 

However, if you are new to owning a dog or haven’t spent much time walking one, it can be difficult to know where to start. If you are full of questions about walking your dog, let us answer a few for you.

How Long Should I Walk My Dog? 

From Mastiff to Chihuahua, every dog loves a good walk. However, every dog has different needs. Small dogs, like Yorkies, will be all right with a short, 10-20 minute walk, while larger or more athletic dogs like Greyhounds could need an hour or more! 

If your dog is just a puppy, if they are elderly, or if they have health problems, we recommend starting with 15-minute walks. Once a routine is established, pay close attention to your dog’s mood and body language. You’ll learn how to tell when they want to go for an extra walk, if they want to walk a little longer, or when they’ve simply had enough.

Does your dog have a lot of energy that gets them into trouble? Are they lunging for the door every time you leave? They might need an extra walk or a longer one. Continue increasing the length or frequency of walks until they start to seem more relaxed.

Does your dog fall asleep after every walk? Do they seem tired when you get back? Do they sit down and refuse to walk back home? Decrease the amount of activity and switch to shorter, more frequent walks. Even 5-minute walks can have benefits for senior dogs, and help keep their muscles and joints healthy.

What Do I Need for a Walk?

There are two basic things you need to walk your dog: a leash, and a collar or harness to attach it to. There are lots of gadgets and accessories that are supposed to make walking your dog easy and fun, however, you won’t know exactly what you need until you have a few walks under your belt. Taking your dog out for a few easy walks and making note of their behavior can help you avoid spending too much time and money on unnecessary equipment.

1. Collar or Harness 

Picking the right collar or harness can feel overwhelming with all the choices. However, the most important thing is getting out there, finding your perfect collar or harness can come after you understand your dog’s walking behavior better. 

2. Leash 

The length of leash you need will depend on your height and the size of your dog. In general, you’ll want a leash between four and six feet long. We do not recommend retractable leashes, because they give you very limited control over your dog, and can be dangerous in some situations.  

Four Tips for Happy Walks

1. Keep an eye out for others.

When walking your dog, be sure to keep your eyes open. Other dogs, wandering cats, and even squirrels can interrupt an otherwise calm walk. 

2. Watch the weather. 

Extremes in temperature always affect pets. If it’s too hot outside, your dog could be at risk for heat stroke or burned paws. If it’s too cold they could suffer from hypothermia and frostbite, no matter how furry they are. 

3. Pick familiar routes to start. 

If you are new to walking a dog, it is important to remember that dogs will feed off your emotions. If you are nervous, they’ll be nervous, too. By sticking to familiar routes until you feel comfortable with your dog’s behavior, you can help yourself stay calm. 

4. Bring some treats. 

Treats are an awesome tool for helping your dog pay attention when you need them to. Bringing treats can also be a way to add mental stimulation to the walk or to teach them tricks. Mental stimulation will even help tire your dog out faster, mitigating some destructive behaviors.  

Veterinary Care That’s a Walk in the Park

Keeping your dogs healthy does not end with daily walks. Scheduling a checkup once a year, and keeping up with a vaccination schedule is essential. Animals often hide their pain, masking signs of illnesses until they become huge problems. A yearly checkup can uncover issues like decaying teeth, diabetes, or joint problems. 

Our team at East Valley Animal Hospital understands that you only want what is good for your pet. That is why we make time at every checkup to answer any questions you have about caring for your pet. If you’ve recently adopted a pet, or it’s been a while since your last trip to the vet, contact us today to make an appointment.



Images used under creative commons licence – commercial use (2/29/24). Photo by FLOUFFY on Unsplash.