Walking for Weight Loss
Walks are a great time to bond with our dogs. Walks are also an important form of exercise for maintaining a healthy weight for our pets. It’s important to remember that walking for leisure looks a little different than walking for weight loss. Here are some helpful tips from Dr. Ernie Ward (with the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention) on how to pick up the pace and get your pet in shape!
Get the right equipment
A head halter or harness is preferable to a collar, as these leads do not put pressure on the trachea (windpipe) of your pet when walking. A 4-6 foot leash (no retractable leashes!).
Set the right pace
“Draw your leash close – generally within two to three feet of your body – to your left or away-from-the street side and set off at a pace you feel comfortable sustaining. This should be about a fifteen minute per mile pace for most small dogs. It should feel like a brisk walk and you should break into a light sweat. The key is to keep it up! Don’t stop. Don’t look down at your dog when they inevitably want to stop and smell something or mark a hydrant. Continue staring straight ahead, tighten the leash (don’t jerk) and give a command such as “Come” or “Here” if their attention begins to stray. It is important that your dog understands that walking for exercising is different than a casual, relaxed outing. Head halters are a great tool for training dogs to heel during a fast walk and retain their attention. If they sit or refuse to walk, you may have to return home and try again another time. I have yet to encounter a dog that didn’t take readily to aerobic walking after a little training.”
Set time goals
Start with 30 minute walks for a minimum of 5 days a week. A sample schedule looks like this:
Week 1 – 30 min total (10 min brisk then 20 min casual pace)
Week 2 – 30 min total (15 min brisk then 15 min casual pace
Week 3 – 30 min total (20 min brisk then 10 min casual pace)
Week 4 – 35-40 min total (30 min brisk then 5-10 min casual pace)
Week 5+ – 35-60 minutes total (Try to do two 20-30 min walks per day: 15-25 min brisk then 5 min casual pace
Monthly weight checks
Weigh your pet at the clinic monthly to track progress and adjust goal weights as needed.
Please make sure to check with your veterinarian before starting a walking program if you have any concerns about underlying conditions (like heart disease or arthritis).
Overall, you’ll be surprised with the physical and mental health benefits of consistent walks for both you and your pup!
Adapted from the full article here: https://petobesityprevention.org/…/walking-the-dog-tips-for…