The sun is out, spring is here – it’s a good time to walk the dog
Wow! This weather is gorgeous.
Having spent the last few weeks wearing wellies and a raincoat, battling the wind with a very reluctant Doberman trudging through the mud, this springtime sunshine feels fantastic.
We are right in that sweet spot of weather where it’s not too hot and not too cold.
I took a brisk walk through Southlands with my dog the other day and marvelled that, with a very short car ride, I could be standing in a stunning forest of tall trees, marching up hills and exploring old derelict houses. If you haven’t taken a walk through there recently, you should. It’s beautiful. Don’t forget to take iced water for you and your pup, as well as a supply of poop bags to keep Bermuda beautiful.
We are fortunate to have so many areas of natural beauty to walk the dog in Bermuda, and what a perfect way to lose the Covid 10lbs plus Christmas excess that, definitely for me, have stacked up in the last few months.
Studies have shown walking the dog to be an excellent way to lose weight as you tend to walk further with the dog than you would on your own. Since obesity is one of the primary issues in pet health these days, a good daily walk should be on every dog owner’s agenda.
Walking is a low impact activity for both you and your pet and, if you throw in the occasional hill to push up the heart rate, you can get the cardio workout too. It can help to lower blood pressure and to build up strength in muscles and bones in both you and your pet. It’s a win-win and, depending on the breed, your dog will be your willing training partner once or twice a day.
Walking with a dog has also been shown to reduce stress in the owner and the dog, and to increase happiness in both. The non-judgmental companionship and unconditional love offered by pets is known to have considerable mental health benefits for owners, including increased self-esteem.
Dog walking is also a fabulous way to meet people and gives you an instant conversation starter every time. I had a memorable client a few years back who had a magnificent black Labrador. The dog was far more sociable than the owner, who was really rather introverted and shy. The dog would wag his tail and play with everyone he met, dragging his reluctant owner with him. His owner soon became well known through his loveable Lab, and his dog helped him speak to people and make new and lasting friendships. It was a wonderful partnership which definitely brought this owner out of his shell.
For the technical-minded, you can now buy a FitBark for your walking companion, which attaches to their collar and tracks their daily activity. It feeds back to an app on your cell phone just like a Fitbit, but for dogs. You can set the ideal amount of exercise you want them to achieve in a day and track their levels through the week to improve their fitness.
It even tracks their sleep patterns and temperature. You can monitor the amount of exercise they do with the dog walker or at puppy play days so you can adjust your levels of exercise accordingly. My dog has been wearing one for a month now and the feedback is amazing.
So make the most of this fantastic dog-walking weather and get out there with your four-legged friends. You’ll be happier and healthier for it.
Lucy Richardson graduated from Edinburgh University in 2005. She started CedarTree Vets in August 2012 with her husband Mark. They live at the practice with their two children, Ray and Stella, and their dog, two cats and two guinea pigs. Dr. Lucy is also FEI National Head Veterinarian for Bermuda. Have a question? E-mail email@example.com