Walking your dog can actually make you happier

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  • It's not just good for your pooch

    There’s an unbreakable bond between you and your pet. Whether you’re a fur parent to a cat, dog, or hamster, the fact of the matter is that a lot of people love their pet more than they like some humans. We already know that we mourn animals in the same way as we would mourn our loved ones because interaction with a pet can ’cause pet owners to derive more satisfaction from their pet relationship than those with humans, because they supply a type of unconditional relationship that is usually absent from those with other human beings.’

    And now a recent study has revealed that walking your dog actually makes you happier.

    Research by natural dog food producer Forthglade showed that despite Brits not walking their dogs as often as they should, 96% of dog owners who participated in the study say that walking their dog makes them feel happy, helping them relax and unwind, resulting in them feeling positive and energised and strengthening their bond with their dog. Over a fifth believe it helps them get out and meet new people, while 15% say it encourages more talking time with the family and children.

    But the benefits aren’t enough to get people out and about with the dogs, with only 42 percent of the nation’s dogs walked on a daily basis, according to the research.

    It found that more than half of British dog owners admit to not walking their dog as often, and for as long, as they should.


    Credit: David Micha Sheldon/imageBROKER/REX/Shutterstock

    TV vet Steve Leonard, who is supporting Forthglade’s Great British Dog Walk campaign, said: ‘Without regular exercise, dogs are at increased risk of health problems, such as joint disease, obesity and stress-related disorders. Like humans, exercise is an important part of mental and physical wellbeing.

    ‘If you can walk your dog even just a little bit more, not only will your dog reap the health benefits of regular exercise, but it will strengthen and enhance the bond between you and your dog.’

    Dr Carri Westgarth, a dog behaviour expert and Lecturer in Human-Animal Interaction at the University of Liverpool, has conducted extensive research into the positive effects of dog walking on health and wellbeing of both owners and dogs.

    ‘These findings are extremely familiar to me as dog owners tell me the same in my own research,’ she says.

    ‘It sounds obvious to state that regular walks are good for us, but in our busy lives, it’s easy for walks to slip by in a hurry, or be put off until tomorrow. We want to help people rediscover the joy in walking their dogs and appreciate those moments that are not only benefitting the dog and themselves physically, but also helping us de-stress and improving our mental health.

    The reasons given for not walking dogs for longer include just not having enough time (28 percent), being too tired after work (15 percent), dogs misbehaving on walks (15 percent), and preferring to watch TV (4 percent).

    No more excuses!

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