Monday, 10 November 2014

Discover Dogs - and the ways they improve your health

Despite being a proud cat owner, I was brought up with dogs - and have a family that to non-pooch lovers could be described as canine-obsessed. Even my first editorial job was at Dog World Publishing (the flagship product being a weekly newspaper that covers the pedigree dog 'scene' - yes there is such a thing!). One of my daughter's (if not both) also has the dog-loving DNA too and in a few years I hope to be in a position to make her dreams come true and welcome four little paws into the family. Which is why we rocked up to Earl's Court 1 this weekend as it played host to the Kennel Club's Discover Dogs event - where visitors can meet over 200 different breeds of dog, and learn all about the distinctive personalities, traits and needs of each. It's a kind of canine matchmaking service!

Your new jogging buddy


While getting a dog is not a decision to take lightly, I truly believe it is one of the best things that you can do for you and your family's health. Not least is the exercise requirement of all dogs - they must go outside whatever the weather and however you feel. This fact alone will prevent you from leading a sedentary life - and allow you and your nearest and dearest to appreciate how enjoyable that daily constitutional is! Children that grow up walking will more likely continue it as they grow up.

Obviously some dog breeds require more exercise than others - with some able to go for many hours longer than their weary owner ever could! Some dogs will make perfect running or hiking partners (but you must wait until their bones are fully developed before pounding the pavements or scaling hills) - other may be suitable for agility work or flyball - great ways to get up and off that sofa. Other ways to keep fit with your dog include obedience trials and even dancing! Certain breeds also have very specific sports they can train for - like racing with huskies. That said, never underestimate how much walking a dog originally bred for 'working' will enjoy and make sure you are up to the challenge - otherwise you'll quickly find that your bundle of fur is becoming bored, naughty and destructive (say goodbye to your slippers, wallpaper, furniture...).



Live longer


A pet is also great for your general sense of well being. Dogs are loyal and optimistic - always ready for a new day and forever happy to see and spend time with you. And best of all they can't tell you to 'buck up' or say 'I told you so' when you're just in  the mood for a hug. Once you have a dog, you will also have access to a whole new world of social interaction - from the other regulars you see on your walk to the many people who will stop to admire your four-legged friend. It's now accepted that having more social ties makes for a healthier, longer life. You might even like to get involved in a Pets As Therapy scheme - spreading the doggy love with the young and old, those in hospitals, special-needs schools and hospices - and even helping children learn to read. Even if your lifestyle means you can't own a dog yourself, rescue charities often need volunteers to walk and care for the animals while they wait for a new owner - meaning you can help them out and improve your health at the same time.

So could a dog be your next personal trainer? And what type might you choose? A working dog like a pointer that needs a lot of exercise off lead - or a toy breed such as a Chihuahua that can bring you years of happiness without the cardio? I'd love to know your favourite breed - use the comment box below to tell me!

7 comments:

  1. Ah, that's a nice post! I have to say I feel a lot healthier now I have to go out every day with my labrador. I also run with him sometimes - feels safer going out with him than on my own.

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    1. Agreed even if they are as soft as butter, a largish dog will deter a potential harasser! I truly believe that's why my parents are so healthy - they have a good walk twice a day - and have been doing so for about 30 years!

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  2. Yes I agree, I must have a long walk every day as Toby, my dog needs a walk. I love his cuddles, he always calms me down when he is stressed.

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    1. Awww, that's great to hear. Amazing how they transform our lives with - seemingly - so little effort isn't it?

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  3. I have always had dogs and being completely adverse to sport or most other forms of exercise other than walking then these 4 legged friends have been my saviour. We have recently got a 2 year old Lab rescue and much as I miss our previous dog, who had been ill, it is lovely to be able to get out fast walking again.
    Many thanks for joining in with #AnimalTales.

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    1. Yes, it is hard to get another dog - I still haven't managed to imagine what having a new dog in my life would feel like - my pointer was just gorgeous and very loving. But then it's hard not to fall for another four-legged friend too!

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  4. My Stella is definitely good for my physical and mental well-being, can't imagine a home without a dog in it now! :) #animaltales

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