Dog walking makes you happy!

The Great British dog walk could soon be a thing of the past, with only 42 percent of the nation’s dogs walked on a daily basis, according to a new study by natural dog food producer Forthglade. 

The research found that more than HALF of British dog owners (58 percent) admit to not walking their dog as often, and for as long, as they should, with the average weekday dog walk a mere 19.9 minutes long – despite The Kennel Club guidelines that dogs are exercised for a bare minimum of half an hour a day, with up to two hours for larger breeds.

Almost a quarter (24 percent) of the nation’s dogs are NEVER let off the lead while out walking, with 55 percent only being given free run sometimes due to worries for their safety. It appears that our pooches may need better training, with almost half (49 percent) of owners admitting their dogs run away and refuse to return when called.

26 percent of time-poor dog owners confess they squeeze their dog walks around their busy lives, exercising them on the school run, shopping trips, and quickly round the block when they get home from work.

The study marks the launch of healthy dog food brand Forthglade’s ‘The Great Dog Walk Challenge’ campaign: a bid to help dog owners reprioritise the daily dog walk and to highlight the mutual benefits that walking can have on dog and owner relationships.

TV vet Steve Leonard, who is supporting the campaign, is concerned by the findings that many pet owners are not exercising their dogs as often as they should: “Without regular exercise, dogs are at increased risk of health problems, such as joint disease, obesity and stress-related disorders. Like humans, exercise is an important part of mental and physical wellbeing.”

“If you can walk your dog even just a little bit more, not only will your dog reap the health benefits of regular exercise, but it will strengthen and enhance the bond between you and your dog.” 

Dr Carri Westgarth, a dog behaviour expert and Lecturer in Human-Animal Interaction at the University of Liverpool, has conducted extensive research into the positive effects of dog walking on health and wellbeing of both owners and dogs. She hopes Forthglade’s campaign will lead the way to encourage dog owners to get out and walk more frequently, and mindfully:

“These findings are extremely familiar to me as dog owners tell me the same in my own research. It sounds obvious to state that regular walks are good for us, but in our busy lives, it’s easy for walks to slip by in a hurry, or be put off until tomorrow. We want to help people rediscover the joy in walking their dogs and appreciate those moments that are not only benefitting the dog and themselves physically, but also helping us de-stress and improving our mental health” explains Carri.

“As part of Forthglade’s Great Dog Walk campaign, we are launching a 6-week ‘Mindful Dog Walking Challenge’ to provide practical advice for dog owners on how to reap the benefits of longer, more frequent and more mindful dog walks without it feeling like a burden or chore. Over six weeks we will help you tackle your barriers to enjoyable dog walking and gradually establish a new daily routine.”

Further findings from the Forthglade Great Dog Walk Challenge study include:

Brit’s favourite excuses for NOT dog walking

The reasons given for not walking dogs for longer include just not having enough time (28 percent), being too tired after work (15 percent), dogs misbehaving on walks (15 percent), and preferring to watch TV (4 percent).

It’s not just owners who’d rather cuddle up indoors than go out for walkies, with 20 percent of dog owners claiming their dog doesn’t like to be out in bad weather, 11 percent saying they own tiny dogs with short legs who hate long walks, and 4 percent saying their dog just doesn’t like getting dirty.

It would appear that, like many owners, dogs love a TV dinner. In fact, 46 percent of those polled claim that their pooches love sitting on the sofa and watching TV, with a quarter of owners admitting they feed their dogs leftover takeaway.

Little wonder then, perhaps, that more than a third of dog owners (36 percent) confess that their dogs are overweight.

Dog walking and happiness

Despite Brits not walking their dogs as often as they should, 96 percent of dog owners say that walking their dog makes them feel happy, helping them relax and unwind, resulting in them feeling positive and energised, and strengthening their bond with their dog.

21 percent believe it helps them get out and meet new people, while 15 percent say it encourages more talking time with the family and children.

No surprise then that a staggering 93 percent of British dog owners wish they were able to walk their pets more often.

To take up Forthglade’s six-week “Mindful Dog Walking Challenge”, download the ‘The Great Dog Walk Challenge’ booklet at www.forthglade.com

 

 

 

 

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