If you have read more than a couple posts on this site, you will know that I am a big advocate of hiking with dogs. But don’t just take my word for it. Check out this list of 6 reasons you should get off the couch now and take your dog for a hike.
1. Get Some Exercise
I think at this point, we all know that exercise has many health benefits for people. Lowering blood pressure, increasing metabolism, keeping your heart healthy, releasing endorphins, and much more. In fact, did you know that a report commissioned by the Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) found that people who walk their dog five or more times per week saved the U.S. health care system $419 million a year? More information here.
And many of the same benefits apply to your dog. As the saying goes, a tired dog is a happy dog!
2. Burn Some Calories
Although what you eat is often more important than how you exercise, taking your dog for a hike can help both you and your dog activate your metabolism. The average person burns 400-500 calories per hour of hiking. There are less studies on how fast dogs burn calories, but some research studies suggest that a dog burns about 0.8 calories per pound per mile when walking.
By keeping a healthy balance between output and input of calories, you can help your dog maintain his or her ideal weight. And did you know, keeping your dog at an ideal weight can help add years to his/her life. In fact, the difference of being overweight versus at an ideal weight adds an average of 15% more years to a dogs life. Check out the Purina Life Span Study to learn more.
3. Reduce Some Stress
Exercise in outdoor spaces has been proven to reduce stress. Check out the abstract for this study from Switzerland. The researchers found that stress levels improved by 87% and headaches were reduced by 52% during activity outdoors in urban forests and city parks. Add to that the stress reducing benefits of spending time with pets (there is a plethora of research articles supporting this) and hiking with your dog becomes an obvious way to reduce stress levels.
4. Get Some Mental Stimulation
I talk a lot to pet owners about making sure that our pets get adequate mental stimulation. A young bored dog is often a naughty dog. An old bored dog is often experiencing faster mental decline. Getting out for a hike introduces a lot of new sights and smells for your dog. It allows both of you to explore new paths. A walk around the neighborhood block is a great starting place, but both of you can quickly grow tired of the same routine stroll. Getting out with your dog for a hike in the great outdoors is a wonderful change of pace. Read more about the benefits of mental stimulation for dogs at VetInfo.
An added bonus is that you get mental stimulation too! Hiking has been shown to increase creativity, although this may be linked more to the fact that most hikers disconnect with technology for the length of their hikes.
5. Share Some Experiences
Hiking with your dog is a great opportunity to spend some one-on-one time together. The sharing of hiking experiences can increase your human-dog bond. Having a good bond with your dog is important on many levels – from increasing the health benefits of living with a pet to improving the foundation for your dog’s training.
6. Do Some Training
And speaking of training, hikes are a great time to reinforce great behaviors and etiquette for your dog. Has your dog learned how to sit and heel indoors and on neighborhood streets? Make sure they can also listen in the woods. Practice your recall with the distraction of new sights and scents. A well-trained hiking dog makes for a happier hike.
Now that you have hopefully been inspired by some great reasons to take your dog for a hike, it is time to grab your leash and harness and get out on the trails. Everyday is a great day for a hike with your pup!
Need tips on what gear to bring, check out Pawsitively Intrepid’s 6 Essentials for the Everyday Hike with your Dog. Or looking for good hiking locations? If you live near La Crosse, WI, check out the 5 Best Dog-Friendly Hiking Trails in La Crosse, WI.
Do you hike with your dog? If so, let us know what you think are the best benefits of hiking with your dog.