Facts About Walking Your Dog

Daily walks with your dog will not only strengthen your bond together but also gives you and the dog necessary physical and mental exercise.

Playing in your backyard with your dog is great exercise, but it’s not enough! Taking your dog for a walk not only fulfills his physical exercise needs but also is great mental stimulation.

Think about if you NEVER let your kids leave the confinement of the house and yard. They would be bouncing off the walls, finding ways to entertain themselves in all sorts of ways (not always good). Your dog feels the same way, he will quickly find something to chew on, get in the trash, etc.

To live a balanced life, your dog needs exposure to the world: smells, cars, people, other dogs are all part of your dog’s life.

Girl Taking Your Dog for a Walk

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How Long Should I Walk My Dog Each Day

The frequency and length of your daily dog walks are going to be different for every dog. Every dog is unique. In general, your dog should have at least one 20 minute walk per day. 

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Smaller dogs will require shorter walks. High energy dogs will need several long walks every day.

To determine out how often and how long your dog needs to walk, you will need to pay close attention to his behavior. Start with a 20-minute walk, and if he is still full of energy, keep going. If you take a 20-minute walk, and he’s tired when you come home, you know you’ve fulfilled his need.

Once you have a walking schedule that works, be consistent. You will notice the bond with your dog become stronger and stronger with every walk.

With my two dogs, we take a short walk in the morning around the block and a long 2-3 mile walk in the evening. When we get home after that 3-mile walk, they are zonked out! Mission accomplished! I highly recommend getting a leash that is comfortable to walk your dog, our leather leashes have lasted over a decade.

And when it’s too cold or poring rain, we opt for inside games to keep their minds stimulated. Here are some great indoor games to try with your dog.

Top 5 Benefits of Walking Your Dog Daily

It is so important to walk your dog every day. But, I will admit, in my early days of having a dog, I did not walk them as often as I should have. I didn’t realize how many benefits there are in daily walks. My dogs were still well behaved for the most part. But I can only imagine how much better their life would have been if I wasn’t naive to these benefits of walking my dogs.

1. Physical Exercise

Perhaps the most obvious, walking your dog creates a healthier dog and healthier you. Your dog will feel better, be more energetic, and best of all, experience less behavioral issues.

2. Mental Exercise

Your walk should consist of your dog walking by your side 90% of the time. The other 10% is to allow him to sniff and go potty. Use your walks as a training session, not a time for him to chase after squirrels, sniff every tree, or pee on every fire hydrant!

Our personal dogs are always at a loose leash heal, and we like to stop at every corner or crossing. Each time we stop, our dogs are expected to automatically sit next to me. I will give them praise, look for traffic and continue on our walk. This not only allows me to train the AUTOMATIC SIT, but time for my dog to stop, slow his mind down and think about what I am doing.

3. Exposure and Socialization and Confidence

If your dog never sees anything but your house and yard; strangers, kids playing, bike riders, will all seem like threats. Giving your dog exposure to new sights and experiences will show him the outside life is not threatening.

We’ve had several foster dogs come to us afraid of simple things like bushes and large boulders on our first few walks because they’ve never experienced the walk before!

Why should you walk your dog? He needs exposure to the world: smells, cars, people, other dogs are all part of your dog’s life.

4. Building Your Relationship

You have control of the walk and you have control of your dog. This relationship will help build your bond and leadership with your dog. He learns that you are in control by walking next to your side. Read: What does it mean to be the pack leader for your dog.

5. Training Opportunity

Going back to the mental exercise, use the walk to train your dog. Adding commands like SIT anytime you come to a stop. You can practice a SIT STAY with another dog walking by, or stop and talk to a friend and put your dog on a DOWN STAY. And of course, practice healing by your side when walking.

BUT My Dog Pulls Like Crazy When I Take Him for a Walk

Okay, so now you understand the reasons why and how often to walk your dog. But if you are like the majority of dog owners, and your dog pulls on the leash, barks at other dogs, or is leash aggressive, you may not want to take your dog for a walk.

Do you feel like it’s more work than it’s worth? I get it, really I do. Many of our foster dogs come to us not trained to walk on a leash nicely. They pull, and pull, which makes the walk so unpleasant I wonder why I even bother sometimes.

The prong collar made it possible for my kid to ride her bike with her dog

Tools for Walking Your Dog

Let’s start with the tools for walking your dog. I highly recommend investing in a quality leather leash. Six-foot in length is the best… this is long enough to allow your dog to go potty and short enough you can walk your dog next to you.

Do NOT use a flexi retractable leash on your walks, this gives your dog the control of the walk.

The game changer for us, the prong collar. I know everyone cringes at the word prong, but before placing judgment, please read my post The Prong Collar, the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. I go in-depth about the use of a prong collar to train a dog. With a prong collar, I can instantly start training a dog not to pull on the leash. It’s important to note, not all prong collars are created equal, please read more here.

Now if you are dead set against using a prong collar, I totally understand. I am not here to say you have to use it, just to inform dog owners of the great tool and promising possibility of using a prong collar for training. There are other tools you can use, and you need to find the one that works for you and your dog. Some dog owners swear by gentle leaders, which can work… but I personally have never used one.

Keep in mind that a harness will NOT FIX the pulling, it simply manipulates your dog to not pull, it does not teach him anything. And a front clip harness promotes pulling. Whereas the prong collar is a TOOL to teach the dog not to pull, which will eventually allow you to use a simple flat collar after the training is complete.

P.S. Now it’s your turn… Leave a comment below to tell me how you take advantage of walking your dog. Do you struggle with your dog pulling? I always reply to comments, so let’s start a conversation… it could help someone else with the same problem or question.

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About the Author

Debi McKee is a mom of three kids, three dogs and the creator of Rescue Dogs 101... where she guides you in your journey of adopting and raising a rescue dog every step of the way. She also volunteers for a local dog rescue and Humane Society.

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  1. I loved that you mentioned that a walk is a great opportunity to teach your dog some tricks. I just got a puppy, but I have to travel on the weekend a lot for work so I won't be able to take her on walks sometimes. I would love to find a pet sitter that I can trust to care for her on a weekend.

  2. This was really helpful. We have a rescue dog that has been with us for about 3 months. Super friendly but jumps on new comers, pulls on the leash and chews everything. So thank you for the tips.

  3. I have a puppy just a year old she has been very smart and quick to learn many things such as body and outside by the age of 6 weeks. Yes I did get her early but that was for other reasons. I do cringe and back to walk her because she’s a puller I have a prong collar that I use and it works excellent. I am a dog walker myself and I suckered into the idea prong collar being mean so I went for the harness front clip and lo and behold she slipped in wiggled and slapped around like a fish two times and got right out of it no problem. Which led to a more dangerous and serious life and death situation of chasing her down or trying to get her back before she gets hit by a car or hurt, or worse yet hurts another person because she is a puppy and not quite socialize yet. I do not have much time to walk my own dogs as sad as that is but that you know what they say about the plumber always having leaky pipes.

  4. Hi, my wife and I just rescued a roughly 1 year old male Pitbull and we already have 3 1/2 year female Pitbull. Rocket, the new addition showed some food guarding and aggression towards our female, we believe it was due to him being a stray before being rescued. Once we saw the aggression we knew we had to nip that in the butt quickly, so we opted for a boarding/training program through a local trainer that had come highly recommended. During the initial consultation the trainer who worked with Rocket explained how the prong collar worked because like a lot of people both my wife and I were solely against them. During his training we became more comfortable with using a prong collar along with an e-collar. We live in the woods and like to let our dogs off leash, so the e-collars help us recall them if they are being stubborn and are more interested in another animal. We’ve had so much success with Rockets training we’ve trained our female to wear the prong collar and e-collars as well. I wouldn’t recommend someone to just buy them off Amazon without first speaking with a professional trainer otherwise you cause serious harm to your animals without knowing.

  5. Hi! Thank you! We have a GSD that is 3 years old. I thought I could train him with a harness type leash but he is in control and it ends up I’m tired and he finally gives up pulling and walks nicely. He wants to pee on anything that sticks out of the ground so I’ve tried walking down the middle of the street which doesn’t keep him from pulling. I think I’m ready to try the prong. How long would you say it’s necessary to use it until he walks nicely without it? How will I know? I need to watch the second half of your video but thank you.

    1. Every dog is different, so I can’t give you an exact timeline. I have one dog that only needed it for about a year, then another that we’ve been using the prong on for 2-1/2 years and he will still pull without it. When he is walking perfectly with the prong for 6 months or so, then occasionally test without it and see how he does.

  6. I have just read your article on dog walking and it has inspired me to walk my dog. Only problem is that this is a near impossible task! I have a 5 year old border collie and he is a very well behaved dog until we step out side the back gate. He likes to chase after cars and he pulls like crazy. I have tried everything I can think of to get him to stop but the only thing that seems to work is taking him places that he can be let off the leash (this is not very practical), I was just wondering if you have any tips that I can try to make walking easier.

  7. I went through so many types of leashes with my 100lbs dog who wouldn’t stop pulling. I finally had success with a slip lead, positioned right behind the ears. He has never walked so easy!

  8. Great help,I have two. Jack terriors one mixed with poodle an one mixed with pit bull. Same mom different Dad’s. Dogs are 5 an 3. Thanks for your help.

  9. Hi, I have used the prong collar for training but I found the easy walk harness works better. My dog was good with the prong collar but I had to put it on him every time we walked. I stopped and got the harness and he is not pulling and walks fine

  10. Next weekend my husband and I are expecting two sister pups from a shelter. I’m a bit nervous about walking two dogs. We have only seen pictures; they look small. Should I walk them both at the same time or take turns with them?

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