Not just a dog walk! Why Canine Enrichment is so important.

Family walking their dog in the park.

There really isn't any better way of enriching your dog like taking them for good honest frolic in the park. Why stop at the park? Why not take them for an exhilarating blast along the beach or a tumble through the woods. So, what exactly does your dog get from their good old daily walk? Well apart from getting their daily dose of exercise, which is of course important for physical health (reducing the risk of obesity and other health conditions) they also get to work on their senses. Their sense of smell is enriched by all sorts of different aromas and odours whilst they are outside. Your dogs sense of smell is something like 40 times greater than ours! It's actually recorded that a dog can smell up to 20 kilometres away! It must be quite amazing being able to sniff out smells so well; the sweet lush grass, the fresh air and the salty sand along the beach must make a dogs walk very interesting.

One thing you will notice with most dogs is the temptation and willingness to sniff at another dogs urine. Being attracted to another dogs urine is not anything disgusting or unhealthy, they are simply getting to know the other dogs in the neighbourhood! As well as feeding your dogs sense of smell, a nice walk out somewhere interesting also exercises their sight sense, many dogs will love to watch other dogs or animals in the distance or even cyclists and joggers. It is a great opportunity to familiarise your dog with all kinds of different stimuli. This all helps with socialisation and can be a big factor when it comes to your dogs behaviour. A large majority of dogs that suffer with behavioural issues lack in either or both exercise and stimulation.

What we find is that dogs who have inadequate exercise or stimulation tend to display aggressive behaviour and or depression. This is neither good for the dog or the owner. And what about playtime? There is no better way for your dog to make friends than out on a walk. Going to a variety of different places with your companion enables them to meet all kinds of different dogs from varying ages and sizes and all kinds of varying breeds. A young and inquisitive puppy can learn a good trick or two from an older, wiser dog; puppies can learn important lessons and manners from a well trained role model.

And that is not everything, it’s good for you too! For many humans, walking the dog is the only form of exercise they get. Keeping ourselves fit is key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle both physically and mentally. We build up muscle tone, exercise our cardiovascular system, stay a healthy weight and reduce the risk of conditions such as diabetes and heart disease, both of which are of increased risk due to obesity. The simple act of meeting other people on a dog walk can improve and enhance your mental health, many good friends I have met on a dog walk! Walking with your dog can certainly help blow away the stress of the day, what other way would you choose to unwind after a long day at work? And life has certainly thrown us all some challenges over the past year or so with the arrival of the pandemic. We honestly don’t know how our mental health would have survived without four paws trotting beside us.

Here are some interesting facts for you…

According to Pet Backer.

* 64% of dog owners believe that dog walking is a personal reflection of their love and affection for their dogs. * 95.5% of dog owners asked did indeed confirm that they see their dog as part of the family. * 56% of dog owners would even greet their dog the moment they come back.

And most dog owners claimed that after a dog walk their dogs were …

* happier (70%), * more energetic (46%)

* much more relaxed (41%) * de-stressed (93%).

According to researchers at the Michigan State University, their studies had found that:

* Dog owners are 34% more likely to fit in 150 minutes of walking in a week compared to non-dog owners. * Dog owners walked 22 more minutes per day compared to non-owners on average. * A dog owner has more motivation to walk due to them needing to keep their pet satisfied. Non-dog owners do not have such a motivation and instead will rely on more self-motivation in order to get themselves moving.

According to statistics provided by Cancer Research UK, it is proven that regularly doing simple exercise such as brisk walking could help prevent roughly 3,400 cases of cancer in the whole of UK each year.

We have a world of wonderful places to walk and amazing scenery to take in, what better way to experience it than with your dog? After all they are man’s best friend.

So, next time you think it’s just a dog walk… remember the good you're doing for both your favourite companion and yourself.

I have been around dogs all my life, growing up our family had many different breeds including German Shepherds, Springer Spaniels, Yorkshire Terriers and Chihuahua’s. Now I have 10 lovely Ridgebacks.