Walking your dog is good for you and the dog! With obesity afflicting 2/3 of American people, and over half of American pets, dog walking is a great way for us all to get some exercise at the same time.
My plan for this page is to provide resources so that you can get together with your neighbors to walk your dogs. I can't provide a national resource - that's way too ambitious - but I hope I can get people in my local area together, and give others across the country some inspiration to do the same thing. NOTE TO IT PEOPLE OUT THERE - I would really like to have a web form where people can register based on their area, just like the city car pooling sites are doing. If you're up for a little volunteer work and would like to turn this page into something like that, please contact me! (nutrition.ga at bluepearlvet dot com)
OK, please start your dog walking program by having a plan. See your veterinarian, learn how to body condition score your dog, and make sure it's safe to start a walking plan. You will want the right leash, collar, and an idea of how to safely progress through your exercise goals. The Pet Obesity Prevention project has a nice fact sheet
to help you get started.
Next, recruit neighbors who can keep you accountable to the program. You are less likely to bail on your dog's program if your friends expect you to show up! One way to find other dog walkers is to check for a MeetUp group (www.meetup.com
). I found these in the Atlanta area: http://dog-walking.meetup.com/cities/us/ga/atlanta/
Tracking your progress provides inspiration and encouragement - this can be done just by marking your calendar, but there are also some cool smartphone apps that can tell you how far you've gone, how fast, what elevation, and give you tips and hints along the way. it's worth a look in the app store.
Finally, Atlanta is really
hot in the summer. Be aware of the potential for heat stroke, and learn how to recognize it - Veterinary Partner has a handout you should check out.
Have fun out there!