If your four-legged buddy is anything like ours, they instantaneously light up on hearing the word “walkies”. Not only is this time of day an enticing adventure for them, but they get to meet up with fellow fuzz friends, experience new smells, sounds and places, expend some much bottled up energy and most importantly, they get to spend quality time with you!
Benefits of Walking your Pooch
- Expending Energy: All your pooch’s pent up energy needs to be burnt off somehow and there’s no better solution than a daily walk (or run, depending on their fitness levels). Excess energy often translates into hyperactive or destructive behaviour which can easily be appeased with these simple forms of exercise.
- Fortifying your Relationship: Our loyal canine companions love spending quality time with us and daily walks are a special time in which to do this.
Regular walks also ensure your pooch is getting enough of your undivided attention, so they don’t engage in attention-seeking habits, such as nipping, barking and jumping, that may cause some vexation on your part.
- Training Time: Regular walks are a resourceful way to reinforce your pooch’s training techniques, work on commands like “heel” and “fetch” along with getting them accustomed to walking on a loose leash as opposed to dragging you along behind them.
- Socialisation Sessions: When you’re out and about walking your dog, it’s a great opportunity for the both of you to meet likeminded people and fellow canine critters. It’s a constructive way to strengthen your dog’s social skills, boosting their confidence and making walking endeavours in the future more pleasant for the both of you.
- Increases their Trust in you: You’re bound to come across some daunting experiences on a walk or two. Perhaps your pooch is intimidated by an approaching rambunctious dog or child or a loud siren from an ambulance driving past… If you comfort them in a calm and patient manner, your furry friend will come to realise you are there for them and this will certainly reinforce their trust in you, as their pet parent.
- Encourages physical and mental stimulation: Some breeds are more inclined to get bored with lack of exercise and company than others. There are many toy puzzles and inventions one can use to keep their pooch entertained whilst you’re out for the day, but nothing seals the deal like a good old-fashioned walk to get the joints oiled up, the blood flowing, and the brain cells incited.
- Reduces Roaming Tendencies: Dogs are explorative little souls and once they’ve grown accustomed to their familiar surrounding area, they eventually wish to explore further, which is especially true for unneutered dogs. Regular walks can satisfy their exploratory needs thereby reducing their natural inclination to roam.
- Digestive System Support: Walking kicks the body into gear and this includes your dog’s digestive system, aiding digestion of food and the relief of constipation and other gastrointestinal issues.
- Weight issues: As dogs age, their metabolisms slow down and if they aren’t kept active, they will gain weight which can lead to many health ailments down the line. By keeping to a regular walking schedule, your pooch will either shed those unwanted extra kilos or maintain their current slim physique.
- Arthritic Pain Management: A daily walking routine ensures that joints are kept agile, either reducing any pain associated with arthritis or preventing the development thereof.
If you and your pooch are not used to being walked, start off with shorter, slower walks and gradually increase the pace and distance as you and your canine companion get fitter together.
Puppy Walking Guidelines
Research has proven that the growth plates of puppies don’t close until approximately 12 months of age, although this varies somewhat depending on the breed concerned. Until such an age, it’s strongly advised to limit the intensity and frequency of exercise-related activities before the growth plates have fused properly. Failing this, your poochlet could stand an increased chance of developing elbow dysplasia or Osteochondritis Dessicans which is a deformity in the growth of cartilage that can ultimately result in lameness.
As a rule of thumb, the length of time walking your pup is recommended by the following formula:
Number of months the pup is in age x 5 = Duration (in minutes) of pup’s walk
For example: A 2month old pup multiplied by 5 should only be walked 10-minutes a day, while a 6month old pup multiplied by 5 can be walked 30-minutes a day.
Please note: The term “walking” here refers to strolling, not power-walking or running.
At the end of the day, you know your puppy’s capabilities, although it’s always better to err on the side of caution and consult with your veterinarian regarding the amount of daily exercise your specific breed requires. For instance, a hyperactive Jack Russel may require a fair share more activity than a puppy Bulldog.
Dog-friendly Walking Spots around South Africa
Always chat to someone who is familiar with the area you are opting to walk in. They will know the safest routes. Remember, when you are adventuring in nature, you may often be alone, without any nearby help so proceed at your own risk and take the necessary precautions.
- Woodstock Cave, Devil’s Peak
- Table Mountain National Park, Chapman’s Peak
- Alphen Trail or Cecilia Forest, Constantia
- Newlands Forest contour path, Newlands
- Liesbeek River Trail, Newlands
- De Waal Park, Oranjezicht
- Jack Muller Park, Bellville
- Leadville Dog Park, Sunningdale
- Greenpoint Urban Park, Greenpoint
- Keurboom Park, Rondebosch
- Tokai Plantation, Tokai
- Constantia Nek, Constantia
- Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, Newlands
- Silwerfontein Trail, Tulbach
- Beaverlac Campsite, Cederberg
- Salmon Bay Beach, Ballito
- Alfred Park, New Germany
- Glenholme Nature Reserve, Kloof
- Umhlanga Lighthouse Beach, Umhlanga
- Melville Koppies East, Melville
- Emmarentia Dam, Emmarentia
- Lonehill Park, Lonehill
- Walkhaven Dog Park, Muldersdrift
- Kranskloof, Magaliesberg
- Huddle Park Golf and Recreation, Linksfield
- Delta Park, Randburg
- ECHO Dog Park, Fourways
- Jan Cilliers Park, otherwise known as the Fairy Park or Protea Park, Pretoria
- Waterkloof Park, Pretoria
- Faerie Glen Nature Reserve, Pretoria
- Kruinpark Nature Reserve, Pretoria
- Chintsa East, East London
- Bonza Bay, East London
- Hogsback Forest, Hogsback
- Blue Water Bay, Mazeppa Bay
- Mazeppa Beach, Mazeppa Bay
- Oyster Bay Beach, Oyster Beach
- East and West Beach, Port Alfred
- King’s Beach, Port Elizabeth
- Sacramento Trail, Port Elizabeth
- The Haven Beach, Wild Coast
- Second Beach, Port St. Johns
- Buffalo Gorge, Mpumalanga
Written for inFURmation
by Taliah Williamson