Walking Your Dog for Weight Loss

Has your veterinarian recommended you start walking your dog as part of his total weight loss program? Along with a change in diet, exercise can help encourage weight loss in your dog.

The size and breed of your dog, the climate where you live and the equipment you use will all be considerations when you decide it’s time to make a serious commitment to your dog’s exercise plan.

  • Warming up. If it’s weight loss you’re after, you’re going to have to acknowledge that your dog needs the mental stimulation provided by sniffing every flower, shrub and mailbox you pass. Consider this the ‘warm up’ then apply some discipline to the exercise and get them moving.  Leash them up and pick up the pace.
  • Pace yourself. At the same time, you might have to ease into the length of your walks. Otherwise healthy dogs that are overweight or obese might do well if they’re limited to five half-hour walks in the first week, with 10 minutes of brisk walking and 20 minutes of strolling. Build up from there, increasing the number of rigorous minutes and decreasing the strolling. It’s best to consult with your veterinarian before embarking on a rigorous walking regimen.
  • Keep track. Like any weight-loss program, the best way to be accountable is to write down your progress. That way, you know how far you’ve come and, if need be, you can bring real data into a conversation with your veterinarian. Track the minutes you spend walking each week, both briskly and casually. But remember that it’s a weight-loss program, so track your dog’s weight as well. Get him to the veterinarian at least once a month to record his weight.
  • Keep a short leash. Experts recommend keeping your dog 2 to 4 feet to your side, with your body between him and the street.
  • Consider the breed. Maybe it’s obvious, but a greyhound will need more room (and time) to run than a dachshund. If you have more than one dog, consider varying exercise times and activities to give each what it needs. High-energy dogs especially benefit from varied and more activity.
  • Look for extras. You can knock off a few extra calories by throwing in a few extra activities. Toss a ball and play fetch. Run up a hill. Skateboard along to help keep up the pace.
  • Get the right equipment. A simple collar and leash might not be right for this task. Consider using a head halter or walking harness instead. Around-the-neck collars can restrict your dog’s breathing. Meanwhile, consider the weather and your dog and adjust accordingly. The latest statistics from the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention in 2014 show the need for physical activity in dogs is especially urgent. Nearly 53 percent of dogs are either overweight or obese — with nearly 17 percent in the latter category.
A serious dog-walking session can kill three birds with one stone — exercise for you, exercise for your dog and a solid opportunity for some bonding.

Tips to Take Away

Let your dog ‘warm up’ with some mental stimulation, then get to some serious walking.
Have the right equipment for the job.
Keep track of how often and how long you walk.
To help maintain your dog’s new weight Royal Canin offers a whole line of weight care dog food for small, medium, and large dogs.

For Further Reading: 

Pet Obesity Remains at Epidemic Levels According to New Research - Association for Pet Obesity Prevention
Weight Reduction in Dogs-General Information - Association for Pet Obesity Prevention
Walking your dog for weight loss - Association for Pet Obesity Prevention