Walking the dog is not just about getting your four-legged friend some exercise and do its ‘business’. It also concerns you as a dog owner also getting some exercise, clearing your head which is good for your mental health. Dogs and mental health make a good combination.
Modern day life is stressful. City life can be fast paced. Walking the dog gives you the ability to ‘take a breather’, get away from your desk if you are part of the increasing number of people working from home.
How does walking the dog help pet owners?
• It is a source of exercise for you and your dog or dogs. Look how fit dog walkers are, out all day getting exercise as part of the job.
• It gets you out of the front door, get some fresh air, stretch your legs.
• Use it as a time to ‘clear your head’. The fresh air will let you think things through and come up with solutions. This is in turn can make you more productive when it comes to work and general life.
• Increasing your walking pace can make a difference, your heart beats faster and you can still hold a conversation without feeling breathless.
• Experience the excitement of visiting new places on your dog walks, such as woods, fields or even along the beach. You don’t have to travel far for a change of scenery. Just try places you would not normally visit. Have a look at the National Trust website. It is full of dog walks around the country. Combine your dog walk perhaps with somewhere educational, learn something new, some historical or nature facts. You could even combine it with your children so they learn something at the same time.
• Whilst walking your dog, you meet fellow dog owners. People you would not normally talk to. The common bond is having a dog. Make new friends and getting out and about helps people’s mental health, as highlighted by this Country Living article.
Pets helps people with depression and their health.
• Seasonal affective disorder happens normally around the same time of the year, when autumn turns to winter. It is the time of the year when the number hours of sunlight reduce and darkness becomes earlier and earlier. This is an issue in Scandinavian countries where the hours of sunlight vary far more. Getting out and about with your dog and talking to people is shown to really help.
• Research has shown that watching fish lowers peoples blood pressure. Even stroking a dog or cat can reduce your blood pressure. It just relaxes you.
• Dogs lie on your bed with you when you are sick. They know you are not well and, in their way, stay to comfort you.
• Pets change our behavioural patterns. You come home from a bad day at work. You want to vent your frustration. Your dog or cat welcomes you home, you stroke them, pick them up, and suddenly you feel more relaxed. You can talk to them about your problems, get it ‘off your chest’ and they just listen. Before you realise it, you have calmed down.
• Pets promotes mental health. Particularly owning a cat or dog comes with responsibility. You have to make sure they are healthy, keep up with vaccinations, make sure they get exercise, are properly trained, fed and treat them with kindness. Pets are part of the family and many people see them as their own children.
• If you suffer from depression. You cannot stay in bed until midday and hide from the world. A dog will wake you up, get you out of bed and take them for a walk, which is a huge positive for you own mental health.
A few dog walking tips
• Try walking up and down hills to increase your heart rate that bit more. Good for you and your dog.
• If you feel the need to exercise, combine a dog walk with a gentle jog. That can also motivate your dog to run with you.
• Come rain, shine or even snow, don’t make the weather an obstacle to getting outside to walk the dog.
• When booking say a zoom meeting, make sure it does not interfere with your dog walking. Have a schedule and keep to it.
• This interesting article from Bupa highlights many other health benefits of having a dog.
Finding dog-friendly properties in London is difficult. Only 10% of London landlords are pet-friendly. With many landlords, they would prefer anyone else without a pet and only last minute may say yet to allowing a tenant with a pet.
Unfortunately, by introducing the 2019 Tenant Fees Act, the Government has make it harder for people renting with pets. By capping the deposit to 5 weeks rent, Landlords do not feel that is enough to cover any damage by a dog. This Act also means that a landlord cannot now enforce a pet owning tenant to clean the property at the end of the tenancy.
Therefore many landlords have gone from yes ‘we would consider a pet’ to ‘would prefer not too with the recent deposit cap’. The knock-on effect is that some estate agents see tenants with pets as too much of a hassle.
At Pets Lets, we should know. We specialise in helping clients overcome these obstacles. If you currently live in a block with a non-pets clause, and would so love to spend time with a dog.
One tip could be to look at Borrow My Doggy. You may not have your own dog, but you can certainly build a relationship with someone else’s dog by taking them for a walk. You benefit from having a ‘part-time dog’, getting some exercise and at least feel like a dog owner. The other alternative is to relocate to dog-friendly accommodation.
Russell is the Founder of Pets Lets, a 100% pet friendly London property portal with a relocation & viewing service and a hub of information about dogs in London. Pets Lets is a community where people with pets matter. Russell is a staunch advocate for increasing the number of pet friendly landlords in the city.