By Pet Drs - 01/10/22

It's National Walk Your Dog Week

In this blog:
- The benefits of daily exercise for your dog
- Recommended daily exercise amounts for each dog breed
- Dog walking etiquette: what to do and what not to do
- How to teach your dog to walk on a lead

National ‘Walk Your Dog Week’ is held from the 1st October to 7th October to raise awareness to the ever increasing issue of canine obesity and behavioural issues (Paige, 2010). It is a week aimed around promoting healthy physical and mental health within dogs, as well as in their owners!
Initially hosted as one day, it was soon evident that a whole week was needed to truly encourage the importance and benefits of walking your dog.

As a dog owner, we all know the excitement that comes any time that the word ‘walk’ or ‘walkies’ is mentioned within the proximity of your pet.
Usually it results in their ears pricking up, an excited jump, or as we like to say in reference to our dog… ‘zoomies straight to the door’.
It’s their once a day adventure that exposes them to new smells, different environments, social interaction, and of course allows them to expel some energy. However, for many dogs, a walk is more like a once a week occurrence rather than a once a day.
We all understand that the weather isn’t always prime for walking in, and I’m sure venturing out into a storm isn’t your pooche’s idea of fun either (especially those with fears of thunder).
However, it is vital that we stay in routine when we can, and exercise our dogs when we can.

Behavioural Aspects

Multiple studies have shown that those who own dogs are more physically active than those who don’t (Christian, 2013). Although this may be the case, not all dog owners do walk their dogs regularly.
Studies have shown that reduced exercise can lead to an increased chance of behavioural issues such as aggressive, anxious or destructive tendencies (Paige, 2010).
These behavioural issues may stem from boredom, frustration and pent up energy. As an owner, we can all understand that seeing the same four walls everyday, lack of social interaction and not experiencing any new scenery, would definitely dampen our mood… the same happens for dogs!
Many dog breeds have stemmed from active lifestyles such as hunting, herding or working. Although we may treat them with more superiority nowadays, deep down their instincts are still present!
That means that their ‘need for speed’ so to say, is still there and still needs to be explored. By taking your dog for a walk, they are releasing energy which in turn releases endorphins. This keeps energy from being pent up and ultimately released as aggression later on.
Walking also allows your dog to interact with other pets which allows socialisation. This in turn decreases the chance of aggression to other dogs. This is because the situation is more familiar and less uncertain than a dog who rarely experiences socialisation. 

Physical Aspects

Aside from the behavioural element, one of the biggest benefits to regular dog walking for both the pet and the owner, is the physical aspects.
Although caloric intake is the leading factors to weight, regular exercise can assist in limiting the chance of obesity in dogs. This in turn reduces the chances of conditions such as osteoarthritis, liver disease, cardiovascular disease, and decreased muscle strength.
The same goes for owners! Regular exercise can assist in decreasing the chance of health conditions as well as promoting healthy mental health through the releasing of ‘happy chemicals’ including endorphins and serotonin during exercise. 

Now, depending on the breed of dog, will determine the amount of exercise that is deemed adequate for them. Obviously a Basset Hound doesn’t have the speed and agility of a German Shepherd and therefore will most likely end up exhausting their energy faster. 

Small Breeds

The general rule of thumb for exercise amounts is anywhere between 30 minutes to 90 minutes. For smaller dog breeds including Pugs and Chihuahuas, moderate exercise of 30 minutes is suitable. However this isn’t always the case as smaller breeds such as toy poodles are more active than the standard small dog. Therefore, providing them with more than 30 minutes of exercise and stimulation can definitely be beneficial to them.

Larger Breeds

On the other side of the spectrum, dog breeds such as Great Danes and Saint Bernards, are suited to 30-45 minutes of exercise. 

Sporty Breeds

The dogs that require the most exercise include breeds such as Golden Retrievers, Border Collies, Rottweilers and Shepherds. These breeds fall into the category of 60-120 minutes daily.
You may be thinking I can’t even get myself to the gym for a workout, where am I going to find that amount of spare time for my dog’s walk?
Well, you can break the exercise up into shorter boosts or even incorporate exercise into different ways. Try taking your dog for a smaller walk in the morning, and then a larger walk in the afternoon.
Alternatively, participate in activities with your dog that promote exercise eg. throwing the ball around the yard, going for a hike, taking them to the beach and allowing them to swim in the waves (bigger dogs obviously).

As well as this, remember that your dog is being active throughout the day, even when you aren’t there. For those that have backyards, your dog is most likely trying to catch birds and chasing around random sounds, which also counts toward their daily exercise. The main point is to ensure they are getting external activity outside of this. 

Let’s move on from the health benefits of walking your dog, and move onto the correct way to do it!
Yes, that’s right, we are referring to ‘dog walking etiquette’. It may seem easy to clip the leash on and go for a stroll, letting your dog roam the paths and flowerbeds, however it’s not quite as simple as that. 

Use a Leash

The first step is to of course use a leash. We’ve all had the moment when an unexpected dog has bounded up to you a little too quickly. It’s not always the most pleasant scenario, so it’s important to make sure that your dog doesn’t do that to others. Even extremely well behaved dogs can be spooked or become over excited by stimuli when on walks and therefore a leash ensures control over your pet.  

Scoop the Poop

The second most important step to remember during dog walking is to ‘scoop the poop’. It’s a step that unfortunately, many dog owners forget, however in reality, it is an absolute non-negotiable.
Whilst strolling with your dog, ditch the phone and ensure you are remaining vigilant of where they are and what they are doing. No one likes to be tangled up or tripped by your dog’s leash, so ensure to keep your companion in sight and by your side in the presence of company.

Choose a Side

Finally, teach your dog to walk to one side. Preferably, we would choose the left side as here in Australia, pedestrians walk on the left side of the path, just as cars drive on the left side of the road.
For our dog friends that live across the other side of the world, and that also drive on the right hand side of the road, you may want to teach your dog to stick to the right side of you.
Having a ‘side’ that your dog walks to is respectful to other walkers as it maintains control between the owner and dog.
The whole idea of a ‘side’ actually stems from tradition. Back in the days of hunting, dogs were trained to stick to the left hand side, to allow their owner to occupy their right hand (usually the dominant hand) with a gun.
Although a casual walk may not be the same as a hunting exploration, the same idea of ‘control’ still applies. 

For those with new puppies or even those wanting to refine their dog’s skills, here’s some tips for teaching your dog to walk appropriately.


Firstly, start with choosing the right equipment. This includes a lead and harness (if required). Choose a harness size suitable to your dog, one that won’t slip, choke or move around your dog.
Harnesses allow for more control over your dog, and help to reduce/limit pulling and tugging. In regards to lead length, choose one that is compatible with the breed and size of your dog eg. Many contractible leashes are very thin and therefore suited to smaller canines rather than larger ones such as Border Collies who have more strength.
We also recommend keeping some treats handy to reward your dog throughout the walking training, to reinforce good behaviours. We would recommend our Novel Protein Treats which come in a range of tasty flavours. This way no matter how many treats they require throughout the session, their tummy will stay nourished! 

Establish a Command

Establish a word that will act as a command for when you need to get your dog’s attention on walks. This may be as simple as ‘come’ or ‘heel’ which your dog can learn easily and relate to the action you want them to perform eg. coming back to you when instructed.
As time progresses, increase the distance between you and your dog before giving the command. This way they will learn that the command is still in place even when they aren’t right next to you. 
Alternatively, once the dog is experienced walking on the leash, you can begin to let them off the leash at home and then in public (in controlled settings such as off leash dog park/dog friendly beaches). Ensure to use your command word and reward them when they come back to you. 

Walking your dog can be a fun and enjoyable activity for both you and your furry friend. It shouldn’t be a task and should be something that you look forward to doing. Keep it interesting and explore new and different areas to keep both you and your dog excited. 

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Paige, C. (2010). National Walk Your Dog Week. Retrieved September 27, 2022, from
Christian, H. (2013). Dog ownership and physical activity: A review of the evidence. Retrieved September 27, 2022.