By Léo Azambuja
First of all, don’t try this at home. Try this outside of your home. Every day. Your best friend will appreciate it, and your body will also thank you.
I’m talking about walking your dog. Or dogs, if you have three of them, like I do.
In May 2010, following an 18-month trial period, the Kaua‘i County Council approved leashed dogs on the Kapa‘a muti-use path, except for Lydgate Park. Many residents who testified on behalf of dogs on the path described how much their health improved during the trial period.
Since I have a small pack in my house, I did a quick research to find out exactly why walking my dogs translates to a better health overall, for me and for them.
According to PetSafe, dog owners who walk their dogs are more physically fit than those who don’t do it. But they’re not just talking about trimming body fat. Dog walkers’ risk of developing diabetes is reduced by a third. They are also 35 percent less likely to have depression, 30 percent less likely to have high cholesterol and 15 percent less likely to have high blood pressure.
All that it great news, but what about our furry friends’ health?
According to PetMd, while many of us take our pets for a walk so they can use the bathroom, the health benefits to our pets may go unnoticed. So here are 10 health benefits, listed by PetMd, of walking our pets regularly:
- Better overall health: Exercise is good for us all. It provides many health benefits that include keeping your pet healthy, agile and limber.
- Weight control: An overweight pet is not a healthy pet. In addition to regulating its diet, to keep your pet in tip-top shape, you should be doing your best to provide regular exercise as well.
- Helps the digestive system: Regular walks can be extremely beneficial to your pet’s digestive system, and they can aid in relieving constipation.
- Checks destructive behavior: Regular walks, as well as other forms of exercise, can help reduce or eliminate any of your pet’s chewing, digging or scratching. Pets are like children: If you are not giving them something constructive to do, you may not like what they choose to do.
- Fights hyperactivity: Walks can help to alleviate extra energy your pet may have, calming it down and reducing any hyperactivity, excitability and even night-time activity. A walk can help your pet to feel more relaxed and sleepy rather than restless at bedtime.
- Curbs unruliness: Behaviors such as knocking furniture or jumping on people can be a sign of pent-up energy. Regular walks will help curb this.
- Ends attention-seeking behaviors: Barking and whining are just signs that your pet wants attention from you. Regular walks together will help both of you to stay healthy.
- Promotes bonding: Spending time with your pet is extremely important. It strengthens the bond between you and leads to a strong, trusting relationship.
- Builds trust: If you have a timid or fearful pet, regular walks can help your pet to build confidence and trust. You will likely be exposing your pet to other humans and animals alike, and with you there for comfort your pet can learn to be comfortable around them.
- Helps the owner’s health too: Walking a pet is sometimes regarded as a chore. However, it shouldn’t be, as it is beneficial for all involved. The health benefits you will gain from walking are as great as for your pet.
But before hitting the Kapa‘a multi-use path with your best friend, make sure to follow some key points listed by the nonprofit organization Kaua‘i Path:
- Dogs may be on path except for the small portion of path in Lydgate Park between the Morgan Swimming Ponds and the Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Sports Park.
- Handler must be in control at all times.
- No minimum age requirement for dog handler.
- Maximum of two dogs per handler.
- Must have poop bag in evidence.
- Dog owner must remove and dispose of dog’s feces.
- Dog must be licensed.
- Maximum leash length is 6 feet, non-retractable.
- Must remove dog from the area if it gets aggressive.
- Now go have fun while getting healthier.