Taking your dog on long walks can be a rewarding experience for both you and your furry friend. It’s also a healthy activity that both of you can partake in.
Better Health explains that dog owners can enjoy numerous benefits while walking their dogs. These include better cardiovascular fitness, lower blood pressure, and decreased stress.
However, not all dogs are ready for extended outdoor adventures, and pushing them too hard can lead to discomfort or even injury. That being said, how can you tell if your dog is prepared for those lengthy hikes or extended strolls?
In this article, we’ll explore a few ways to determine if your dog is ready to go out on long walks.
Assess Their Age and Breed
Before embarking on long walks, it’s essential to consider your dog’s age and breed. These factors play a significant role in determining their readiness for extended outdoor adventures.
According to PetMD, younger dogs under the age of four years will need more exercise than middle-aged (five to eight years old) dogs. In general, it’s best to avoid long walks for puppies under six months old. Instead, focus on shorter, age-appropriate activities to build their strength and endurance gradually.
Furthermore, different dog breeds have varying exercise needs and abilities. High-energy breeds like Border Collies and Labrador Retrievers may thrive on long walks and hikes. However, brachycephalic breeds like Bulldogs or Pugs may struggle with excessive exertion due to their shorter snouts, which can impede their breathing. Research your dog’s breed and consult with your veterinarian to understand their specific requirements.
Consider Their Health
The health of your dog is a paramount consideration when deciding if they are ready for long walks. Chronic medical conditions, injuries, or recent surgeries may limit their ability to engage in extended physical activity.
If your dog has a medical history or you suspect they may have health issues, consult with your veterinarian before planning any long walks. They can provide guidance on your dog’s physical readiness and suggest appropriate activities or precautions.
Your dog’s health can also suffer from medicinal side effects. For instance, your dog might be suffering from adult hookworm or heartworm disease. Vets usually recommend Interceptor Plus to such infected dogs. These chewable tablets are very good at treating these conditions, but they can cause side effects as well.
According to PetRx, one of these side effects includes weakness. Thus, if your dog is on heartworm medication, it might not be able to walk very well or for long distances.
Regular check-ups with the vet are also crucial to ensure that your dog is in good health for outdoor adventures. Keep an eye out for signs of discomfort or pain during walks, such as limping, excessive panting, or reluctance to move. If you notice any of these signs, it’s essential to address them promptly and seek professional advice.
Evaluate Their Fitness Level
Just like humans, dogs have varying levels of fitness, and it’s essential to consider their current physical condition when planning long walks. A sedentary dog that spends most of its time indoors or in a small yard may not be prepared for an extended hike.
To gauge your dog’s fitness level, start with shorter walks and gradually increase the distance and intensity over time. Monitor their response to these walks, paying attention to signs of fatigue or distress. If your dog appears tired or sore after a short walk, they may not be ready for longer outings just yet.
To improve your dog’s fitness, engage in regular exercise routines tailored to their breed and age. Activities like fetch, agility training, and even swimming can help build their endurance and strength, preparing them for longer walks in the future.
Observe Their Behavior
The Spruce Pets suggests that a typical dog walk can be 10 to 30 minutes long. Your dog’s behavior can provide valuable insights into their readiness for longer walks. Dogs that exhibit certain behaviors may be more likely to enjoy and excel at outdoor adventures.
Look for signs of enthusiasm when you mention or prepare for a walk. A dog that wags its tail, barks with excitement or patiently waits by the door may be indicating their readiness for a longer excursion.
Conversely, dogs that are anxious, fearful, or reluctant to go on walks may not be prepared for extended outdoor activities. It’s essential to address any behavioral issues and work on building their confidence and comfort levels before attempting longer walks.
Pay Attention to Their Paw Pads
Your dog’s paw pads are their primary means of support and protection during walks, so it’s crucial to keep them in good condition. Before heading out on a long walk, inspect your dog’s paw pads for any signs of damage or sensitivity. You can use dog-friendly paw balms or boots to protect their paws from rough terrain or extreme weather conditions.
Additionally, pay attention to your dog’s reaction when walking on different surfaces. Choose walk routes that are more suitable for their comfort and well-being.
Long walks can be beneficial to you and your dog, but there are always risks associated with them. Therefore, before you decide to head out for such walks, assess the points discussed above. Doing so will tell you whether or not your dog is ready for long walks. That way, you and your furry friend can make the most of these outings and enjoy them to the fullest.