Greenspaces for dog lovers

Are you getting your 10,000 steps a day? Is your dog? This may seem like a silly question, but dog pedometers do exist – and making sure your dog gets enough exercise is just as important as making sure that you get enough exercise!

Facts and figures about dogs and dog walkers

Did you know that it is common for most dog walkers to walk the same route with their dog every single day?(1) Although you may not think this is a problem, research has shown that dogs need a variety of routes, smells and sights for mental stimulation(2).

Walking new routes can also be beneficial for you too. Walking can enhance your mental wellbeing, reduce your risk of some cancers and help maintain a healthy body weight, amongst several more benefits(3). Exposure to nature is linked to better mental health, social health and a more positive attitude to physical activity(4). Walking in nature also has restorative effects and can improve cognitive ability – meaning your mind will be clearer and sharper(5). What better reason to ditch walking your dog round the streets, and start taking them for walks where you can immerse yourself in nature?

Benefits of walks for dogs

Dogs need to be walked. Although some dogs may need more exercise than others, all dogs still have a need to be walked(6). Going for a walk mentally stimulates your dog, due to the sights, sounds and smells(7) – as well as giving your dog their much-needed exercise!

Here are just some of the benefits:

  • Keeps your dog healthy – both physically and mentally(8)
  • Weight control(9)
  • Helps maintain a healthy digestive system(10)
  • Better behaviour/less hyperactive – your dog is more likely to get up to mischief if it has a lot of pent up energy(11)
  • Helps promote the bond between pet and owner(12)

Why walking the same route can be a problem

We understand that many people walk the same route with their dog because they’re pushed for time and engaged in work or family commitments. It is so easy to fall into a trap of familiarity, saving time by following a route we know in a time window we’re accustomed to. For others, it may just be the simple fact that they are unaware of what’s around them and instead stick to walking their dog around places they know. Whilst both are easy to do, you and your dog could really benefit from walking different routes, as you will experience new smells, sights and underfoot textures.

About OS greenspaces and how it can help

The OS Greenspace map will allow you to find a range of greenspaces that are near to you, as well as look further afield if you have a holiday planned in another part of the UK.

With the option to easily plan your route, why not look for greenspaces such as parks and playing fields in a certain radius to you and within a timeframe you know you can manage? Once you have sussed out which ones are viable to walk your dog to, plan a route diary with 3 to 5 different greenspaces (if you’re lucky enough to have this many) and mix up your walks by switching between each one to add variety to both of your weeks. This will keep you both stimulated with new views, smells and interactions.

If you begin to notice your dog preferring a particular greenspace route, you could start to include this as a weekend treat, where you have the time to spend exploring further.

“Living in a city poses its problems when you want to get outside, especially as walking along the pavements to your local Tesco is hardly inspiring and energising, but there are greenspaces closer than you think. A greenspace would be the perfect place to walk your dog, go for runs, play with your children or just enjoy being outside.”

Ellie Search, Ordnance Survey

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References

  1. Natural England: Understanding the Psychology of Walkers with Dogs: publications.naturalengland.org.uk/file/209... (pdf)
  2. Animal Foundation: The Importance of Walking Your Dog: animalfoundation.com/the-importance-of-wal...
  3. NHS: Walking for health: nhs.uk/Livewell/getting-started-guides/...
  4. SAGE Journals: The Cognitive Benefits of Interacting With Nature: journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1467...
    US National Library of Medicine: The great outdoors: how a green exercise environment can benefit all: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC37101...
  5. SAGE Journals: The Cognitive Benefits of Interacting With Nature: journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1467...
  6. PDSA: How much exercise does my dog need?: pdsa.org.uk/get-involved/our-current-c...
  7. Healthy Pets: Walking Your Dog: How to Do It Well and Why It's So Important: healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/a...
  8. Dogs Naturally: 5 Ways Play and Exercise Can Help Keep Your Dog Mentally Healthy: dogsnaturallymagazine.com/5-ways-play-a...
  9. The Kennel Club: Managing your dogs weight: thekennelclub.org.uk/media/770255/mana... (pdf)
  10. The Vet Channel: Walkies! 10 benefits for you and your pet: thevetchannel.co.uk/walkies-10-benefits...
  11. Healthy Pets: Getting Your Hyper Dog to Relax: healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/a...
  12. The Gerontologist: Dog Walking, the Human–Animal Bond and Older Adults’ Physical Health: academic.oup.com/gerontologist/article/doi...

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