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Walking the Dog

Why Walk?
Dog Parks
Harnesses
Dog Walking Services
Doggie Day Care Centers

Why Walk?
Going for a walk is a favorite activity for all Westies. Even if you have a large back yard, the dog will still seek the adventure of cover fresh territory. Rather than simply a chore for elimination, the dog needs the walk for exercise, companionship and to stave off boredom.

One of the most important muscles of the body that is strengthened by exercise is the heart. Although dogs are not as prone to heart attacks as people, their hearts still need to pump for their entire life. A 'flabby' heart can lead to other secondary problems, such as kidney disease, respiratory distress or a poorly functioning liver.

Proper exercise and nutrition also strengthens the immune system, which protects against the many infectious diseases that can afflict your dog. As the dog becomes fit from exercise and good nutrition, his energy level will increase. Active dogs can eat more without the concerns of putting on extra weight.

When your dog first starts his fitness program, his paws are likely to be tender. It takes time and many miles of walking and running to build up firm calluses. Even then, the hard, hot pavement of a city street may be more than his feet can take. Long walks or runs are best kept to the grassy areas of parks.

You may have noticed dogs don't perspire like people do. Dogs lose excess body heat through the pads of their feet and from panting. This process can be greatly aided by giving plenty of water both before and after heavy exercise. It's recommended, however, that you let your dog cool down after a long run before letting him slake his thirst. Wait for about 15 minutes, and then give one-half-to-one cup every 15 minutes until your dog is thoroughly cooled down. Otherwise, he may regurgitate the water, resulting in a hot dog that not only needs water but now also has an upset stomach.

One of the best benefits of exercising your dog goes to the dog's owner. Walking briskly with your dog everyday is great for your own physical well-being. Additionally, dog walkers meet people. Admiring your dog is a great ice-breaker. You will seem more approachable to neighbors who want to get to know you with your dog at your side.

Dog Parks
One of the best destinations for a dog walk is a dog park. These parks are set aside by the state or local community as a common area where dogs can play off-leash with other dogs in a safe, enclosed environment. More and more local communities are lobbying for the creation of dog parks. The dog owner is able to provide fun and adventure for his/her dog while enjoying the society of neighbors that he or she might not normally have an opportunity to meet. Dogs that are socialized with their fellow canines will be friendlier to strange dogs when they meet and able to play nicely with dog companions of visiting friends. For a listing of dedicated dog parks in your state and information on advocating the creation of dog parks, visit http://www.dogpark.com/parkusa.html.

Harnesses
It is essential to have control of your dog when walking in open areas. Even the most well-behaved or elderly dog will spark up with energy when spotting a squirrel or rabbit heading for the road. An excellent alternative to the traditional dog collar is a dog harness. The harness encloses the dog's neck and upper torso. Wearing a harness, the dog is subject to a lot less choking. The harness also makes an excellent "Westie handle". If your dog enters into a fight, or slips into a crevice, retrieving him is a lot easy if you can grab hold of a harness and painlessly pull him to safety. Dogs can make use of your car seatbelts by having their harnesses locked securely in place.

Dog Walking Services
A whole industry has arisen from our love of dogs. Dog walking services have become quite common. If you are out-of-town, work long hours or need to be confined to home for long periods of time, dog walking services can take your place on the walk.

Dog walking services are just the beginning of what can be offered to your pampered pet. Happy Trails Dog Adventures in Canada take dogs on field trips where they can play with other dogs and spend the day on supervised treks in the wilds. Happy Trails throws in Obedience Training sessions in the midst of all the fun.

Doggie Day Care Centers
Doggie Day Care Centers are springing up all over the nation. No to be confused with a kennel although some of these will board, Day Care Centers sponsor day long combination play, relaxation and exercise sessions designed to give a dog a fun day out. For about $10 to $25 per day (prices vary by region), an active dog can spend the day playing and socializing with other dogs or go for a long walk or run under the watchful eye of a center employee. The dog will come home tired out and hungry, just about the time when his people come home tired and hungry too. Typically, he will be a quieter companion in the evening.

A dog day care agency, if carefully chosen, can be valuable for people who don't know what to do with their dog when their lifestyle changes - they must move to a condominium perhaps, or start working long hours or travelling on business. It may also circumvent legal problems as well. Many cities and/or condominiums have bylaws that permit legal action to be taken against the owner of a dog who barks or howls all day.

Your dog does not have to go to a center every day or all day. Many dog day cares cater to clients whose dog comes in a couple of days a week or half days only. Many of these services offer pick up and delivery of your pet.


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