In her article about walking with dogs, Taya Florez follows the research of Assistant Professor of Nursing, Elizabeth Richards, in conjunction with Assistant Professor of Animal Behavior, Niwako Ogata, both of Purdue University. Their research is complimentary because they both focus on two factors:
1. Encouraging dogs and their owners to walk for better health, and
2. Finding ways to promote large groups to exercise.
Florez’ article compiles several examples of how owning a dog can motivate their owners to exercise more, and why your furry friend might be a great choice for a workout buddy.
In 2012, the American Pet Products Association (APPA) estimated that 167 million households had pets, which translates into about 62% of American households. Of those households, 70% of individuals owned a dog (Humane Society, 2014).
According to Richards’ study, most people felt compelled to go walking because they knew it would make their dog happy. As walking became a habit, initial feedback suggested that dog owners had increased their walk times from an average of 10 minutes to 80 minutes a week (Richards).
There’s that old excuse, “The dog ate my homework.” Well now you can blame one more thing on your furry friend: The dog made me exercise. Richards’ study cited that many of her participants only went walking because it made for a healthy, happy dog – and prevented their pet from getting bored enough to misbehave.
By going for walks you can reduce your dog’s hyperactivity and maintain optimal weight, help stir up the digestive tract for healthy bowels, relieve attention-seeking behaviors like whining and constant pawing, and keep muscles healthy and strong (PetMD).
Essentially, humans would rather do for their canine friends before recognizing that they too reap the health benefits of exercising. In fact, many stated they would never go walking if they didn’t have a dog. Prior to having a pet they would make excuses: no time, lack of interest, or perhaps their human exercise partner couldn’t make it. For the most part, those excuses disappear with a dog, especially when the great motivator is saving your home from a bored puppy. So the next time your furry friend looks at you with those puppy eyes, grab the leash and go for a walk. You will be healthier and happier for it.
Humane Society of the United States. (2014, January 30). Pets by the Numbers. Retrieved from http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/pet_overpopulation/facts/pet_ownership_statistics.html
Florez, T. (2014, June 17). Study: Dogs motivate owners to exercise. Retrieved from http://www.jconline.com/story/life/wellness/2014/06/17/dog-walking-study/10660843/
PetMD. (n.d.). Top Ten Health Benefits Walking Your Pet Provides. Retrieved from http://www.petmd.com/dog/slideshows/general_health/top-ten-health-benefits-walking-your-pet-provides