Dog Walking: Is it For the Dogs or For You?

In terms of a “real job”, dog walking seems to be gaining ground...especially among pet lovers. This is great, since it not only serves a valuable population (pets), but has many mental and physical health benefits for humans, too. Might dog walking be a best-of-both-worlds career choice? After all, animal lovers can create a steady income stream while following their passion and getting quality exercise all within a low-stress profession. What do you think?

The Unexpected Dog Walker

Recently, I met a 50-something-year old woman who is counting down her days until retirement from a pretty high level law enforcement career. When I asked her what she planned to do next, she burst into a hearty laugh and replied, “walk dogs!” Later in our conversation, I asked her the same question again. Not because I’m hard of hearing or uber forgetful, but because I honestly thought that her first reply was a joke. After all, she is both educated and accomplished and she’s leaving a very serious, demanding and stressful career. I naturally assumed that, for her, ‘dog walking’ was just code for saying that she planned to keep life very simple after retirement. It was at that point, though, that I realized this woman was dead-serious as she explained how much she loved animals and that she couldn’t wait to to start a freelance career in dog walking. As a few joyful tears welled up in her eyes, I could tell that, for her, dog walking wasn’t just career changing, but she was ready for something totally life changing, too.

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I gleaned a few things from that conversation that I think every dog lover will appreciate, such as:

Dog Walking Is Not Just For Dogs

Turns out that dog walking is a rewarding activity for pets and for humans. Not only do daily walks help strengthen bonds, but dog walking is a healthy physical exercise for animals and their owners. Sunlight, fresh air and moderate exercise should be a part of every dog’s— and every human’s— daily routine, which is why dog walking should be celebrated as a healthy lifestyle choice. Considering the many human rewards that come from such a simple activity, you may just want to take a moment at the end of this post and thank your dog for walking you!

Bonding With Your Pet

Your dog is a part of your family. As she has her own unique personality, you both should enjoy getting to know one another and learning how to interact with one another in different environments. Dog walking, then, should always be considered a part of your bonding experience. Even as your relationship grows, daily walks should be viewed as focused quality time shared between the two of you...quality time that you both need in order to enjoy a full relationship.

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Walk Your Dog For Better Health

According to Mayo Clinic’s website, aging adults, those struggling with obesity and people with darker skin are at risk for vitamin D deficiency. Twenty minutes daily sunlight helps to ensure that sufficient levels of the vitamin are always available for the body to use. Fresh air and sunlight also help in balancing moods and managing stress. Of course, the actual physical act of walking strengthens muscles, bones and aids in circulation. You may think that you’re walking your dog for her well-being, but always remember that dog walking offers you just as much in the way of healthy perks.

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Dog Walking Presents Social Opportunities

Walking your dog through the neighborhood or at a local park gives you a chance to get out and meet your neighbors. Fellow pet lovers often form social relationships just from striking up conversations about their fur buddies, particularly when crossing paths on a regular basis. Meeting people is a lot less awkward, in fact, when pets are around to help break the ice. In large cities, some singles frequent dog parks and dog walking trails for precisely this reason as many hope to find love on their daily stroll.

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While you gain a cordial familiarity with the people around your neighborhood, your dog also becomes more comfortable in public settings with strangers and with other animals. A dog that is used to meeting new people and new animals is far less likely to react out of fear or stress when visitors come to your home. You’ll also find it easier to take your dog with you on family outings or even when running daytime errands as she learns how to be on her best behavior in public settings.

Select a Sitter With Care

As walking is such an important experience for dogs and their humans, it is important to select the right dog walker for the times that you are unable to do it yourself. If you frequently rely on a dog sitter, aim for one who understands the importance of the activity and does not view it as a chore to be checked off of a list. Remembering that it is a bonding experience, when possible, dog sitting and walking should also be done by a person with whom the dog can become familiar over time.

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Your Thoughts

Is dog walking something you literally enjoy or is just another chore that you have to do? Would you hand it off to someone else if you could? Is dog walking your actual job or can you see how such a job could be quite rewarding? How has the daily routine of walking your dog enhanced your life?

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