Hello and thank you for reading my post today! I want to talk to you about the coolest thing I’ve recently learned about owning a dog. I’ve had Riley for over 8 years and my 8.6 pound Papillon is stilling teaching me new tricks every day.  Way back when my family was doing research about which breed to get, we were looking for a small, intelligent dog, who was easy to train and friendly to everyone they meet.  As Riley grew, we trained him to the best of our abilities and played with him every day.  I rarely took him on walks.  I was under the impression that small dogs don’t need much exercise.  Only since Riley, Paul, and I all moved in together, did we start taking Rye-Guy out on walks regularly.  Let me tell you what Riley has taught me.

“Wanna go on a walk?” That gets a big head tilt and a tail-wagging from him now that he knows what it means.  We started taking Riley on walks because our yard at the time wasn’t big and Riley would bolt down the sidewalk sniffing like a madman.  What started as us getting dragged away by the dog, turned into one of my favorite things to do with my dog ever.  I’ve organized why I love walking my dog into 4 points.

First, you and your dog are socializing.  Whether you are walking around the block, or on a trail at a nature center, you will run into people and other dogs.  I’ve noticed that small positive interactions can really influence your day.  If you walk your dog on trails, or simply use trails yourself you may understand what I’m talking about when I say, “the hiker head nod”.  Most people on a trail don’t want to stop and talk with everyone they see, but they don’t ignore you either.  Hikers will often smile and nod their head as if to say, “Hi, how are you?” without actually saying it.  There must be a certain type of friendliness that the trees and nature bring out in humans that gives them the comradery to acknowledge the people around them.  I don’t know why this unspoken tradition makes me so happy, but it really does.  It’s the little things in life maybe.  But if you think about it, people do not do this at the grocery store or at work.  A complete stranger at Target will most likely walk right by you with no eye contact or even give you a dirty look for your cart being in their way.  But on the trail, that same person will look you right in the eye and nod.  It’s uplifting.

Whether you are talking to people or nodding at people, your dog gets socialization as well.  I can’t imagine all the scents Rye smells when we step outside.  His nose is socializing with everything around him and all the dogs that have peed on that one spot.  He also benefits from being around other dogs and humans too.  The more he or she is around people and dogs, the more friendly and comfortable they will be.  

An obvious benefit of walking your dog is the physical benefits for you and your dog.  Being active, even if it is just walking, helps with weight loss, blood pressure, and having a better night of sleep. That goes for you and your dog.  Now I mentioned earlier that I thought that Riley was a small dog and didn’t need to go on walks and probably couldn’t even handle going on walks.  Man was I wrong!  Riley can walk for 3 hours and have a great time!  He worked up to going for that long, but he just loves it.  Since taking Rye on regular walks, I have noticed that he is less antsy afterwards.  He will settle down for the rest of the day.  Riley was never a restless dog who got into trouble, but he would ask me for more attention.  Now, after a walk, Riley will sleep on the car ride home.  He is more calm and content afterwards.  As I am writing this blog, I just looked up Papillon characteristics and the “exercise needs” is rated 5 out of 5! Gosh, I was doing it all wrong in the past!

Next on my list is mental health.  Walking with my dog is like medicine for my mind.  If you are worried, upset, or stressed, I advise you to take your furry friend on a walk.  Walking and exercise in general is great for your mental health, clearing your mind, relieving stress, and happiness from endorphins.  But add a dog and a loved one to the mix and you have a recipe for success.  Whether you work from home or come home from work, walking is a great way to escape from all of the distractions in your life.  I always focus better after a walk.  Paul and I always have great brainstorms or problem solving or deep theory analysis sessions when we are on walks.  It just happens because we are not distracted by technology or other tasks we might have to do.  Any way you put it, walking is so good for your mental health.

As for your dog, they get to explore the world around them and sniff new things and poke their nose at things they never have before.  Riley loves going to new places and exploring.  It is like a challenge for them to adjust to new surroundings and learn how to deal with different obstacles…mentally and physically.  It was the cutest things to watch Riley learn how to cross a big puddle by using a fallen tree as a bridge!  He loves the challenge and I love guessing if he will jump over or go under a tree limb in our path.  Oh and he is getting better and better at figuring out where the chipmunks live.  

Lastly, and most importantly, is that walking improves your relationship with your dog.  You build trust and memories together on walks.  You can explore together and refresh yourself mentally and physically together.  You challenge yourselves and push each other to keep going.  Growing together in your relationship with your dog is so valuable! I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  I am helping out Riley by taking a walk and he is helping me.  It doesn’t get any better than that my friends.

Riley has taught me a lot this past year and I and so thankful for him and all of our walks together.  I encourage you to walk with your dog so that you and your dog can reap the benefits.  Start small and then have fun with it!  

How do you feel about walking with your dog? Let me know if you know of any other benefits in the comments and be sure to give us a “like” if you liked this post. 

Thanks for reading!