Walking the Dog Day
By Lynn Stacy-Smith
Today is Walking the Dog Day in the United States. It is also National Margarita Day. If you participate in both, please walk your dog first and then have your margaritas. Your dog might think it’s the best walk ever to not have to go in a straight line, but really, no drunk dog walking please.
It was not until I went from a very senior dog to a crazy puppy that I learned that the real value of going for a walk outside of the fenced yard is not so much the physical exercise but the mental exercise that your dog gets.
Yes, walks are important physical exercise for your dog, but if you’ve ever had a young Labrador or other high energy breed, you know that it is rare that you are going to wear him or her out physically from just a walk. Even at three and five years old, Jackson and Tinkerbell both come back from long walks and play a post-walk game of zoomies around the back yard.
Even better than the physical exercise that your dog gets on a walk is the mental exercise they get on a walk. Between sniffing new smells, seeing new things, meeting new people, your dog is experiencing the world differently on a walk than from within your walls and fence boundaries.
All dog owners know that dog noses are incredible. If you really want to dig deep into how their noses work, check out this very interesting article on the PBS Nova website: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/nature/dogs-sense-of-smell.html. According to the article, “the part of a dog’s brain that is devoted to analyzing smells is, proportionally speaking, 40 times greater than ours.” This means that their brains are working on overdrive as they sniff the ground, the air, other dogs, other humans that they encounter.
Think about your own lives and how you feel after an intense day of thinking versus working your body. I am way more tired after a day at a dog expo or other vendor event after speaking to new people all day long than I am after an open to close day at Walt Disney World in which we walk a good fifteen miles a day. When I used to teach training classes for three hours straight at my former corporate job there was not enough caffeine in the world to rejuvenate me after class because I had to use my mind non-stop, think about what I was going to say, field questions, remember to include everything in my presentation, and have energy and enthusiasm to keep people interested in college textbooks for three hours!
In addition to being great physical exercise and mental exercise, walks are just plain fun to dogs. We humans get to leave the house whenever we want. Dogs rely on us to see the world outside of our property. If you want to see someone who takes a love of walks to a whole new level I will get Tinkerbell on camera the next time I put on her harness and say the magic “w” word.
In fact, since it is Walking the Dog Day and it’s an unseasonably warm 65 degrees in Chicagoland, I’m going to take a page from Ferris Bueller and tell you to stop reading, it’s over, exit out of my page now and go walk your own dog right now, Jackson, Tinkerbell and I are headed out on our own walk. See you later and don’t forget to Love, Laugh, and Woof!