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People Who Walk Dogs

According to the Times post, the participants were given the choice of walking with a human or a dog as the companion. Ms. Johnson said the dog walkers were far more consistent in sticking with the program than those who were walking with humans.

“In the human walking group, they were regularly discouraging each other from walking,” she said. “Missouri is a hot state. We would hear them saying: ‘It’s hot today. I don’t want to walk, do you?” Yet the response from the walkers in the dog-walking group was very different.

“When the people came to the animal shelter, they bounced off the bus and said, ‘Where’s my dog?” Ms. Johnson said. “And the dogs never gave any discouragement from walking.” Ms. Johnson said she suspects differences will show up in other areas, like depression and anxiety, although that data are still under review and the final study has not yet been published.

So what’s your take? Do you use dog-walking time for exercise? Or do you have better success being motivated by a human companion?

For more on exercising with your dog see Jog With Your Dog, and Five Running Games to Play With Your Dog.

Read more: Caregiving, Dogs, Fitness, Pets, , ,

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Melissa Breyer

Melissa Breyer is a writer and editor with a background in sustainable living, specializing in food, science and design. She is the co-author of True Food (National Geographic) and has edited and written for regional and international books and periodicals, including The New York Times Magazine. Melissa lives in Brooklyn, NY.


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12:21PM PDT on Jun 12, 2013

We don't have dogs anymore but I could "borrow" a neighbors. Our kitties aren't leash trained. Thanks for sharing :)

6:48AM PDT on Aug 4, 2011


2:32PM PDT on Aug 25, 2010

i don't walk faster with my dog because she is small and likes to sniff and mark a lot.

also, my dog hasn't wanted to walk during the hot summer days. at first this saddened me. but then i realized it was hotter closer to the sidewalk than up higher where i was.

i tried to walk by myself, but missed my little walking companion too much.

i am happy to report that the past couple of days have been cooler and my pup has been anxious for our walks.

as we slide into fall and winter, i have no doubt that we'll once again become the dynamic walking duo in our neighborhood! :-)

7:01AM PDT on Aug 6, 2010

I'll be the first to admit that when walking the dog, I tend to walk faster than when I am walking with a human companion. I also tend to go farther when I'm with her than when I'm not. In general I enjoy walking the dog more than with others.
New York Walking Tours

9:28AM PDT on Jun 23, 2010

Dogs make great training partners, just make sure you're teaching your dog good habits while walking. For example, you don't want your dog to pull you around.

You can read more tips about leash training your doghere.

6:11PM PDT on Jun 17, 2010

When I walked dogs long daily, I had thicker, more muscular arms and legs, stonger bones, and was much healthier

11:49PM PDT on Jun 2, 2010

Interesting; thanks. No dog here but my cat does walk me.

8:50AM PDT on Jun 2, 2010

good idea ..I have 3 poodles and I was afraid of other dogs but now I will get used to the regimen slowly they will love it ..something different instead of just their backyard......thanks

6:23AM PDT on Jun 2, 2010

I volunteer as a dog walker for a shelter and can vouch for this. You go every week spend 4 hours walking dogs and playing fetch with them. You feel good for keeping the dogs entertained and you don't think of it as exercise.

Would recommend for anyone who doesn't care for a dog.

4:47PM PDT on May 17, 2010

I think volunteering at a shelter is a great alternative to a gym membership.
1. you don't have to pay for anything
2. you'll always go because you'll feel bad for letting the dogs down
3. It's an unconcious way of exercising
4. you'll feel fulfilled afterwards for doing something good!

I take my dog to my boyfriend's Sunday cricket games which means we're out of the house for atleast 6 hours a week and I'm constantly up and taking him for a wander around for 10-15 minutes all day long - not even realising I'm exercising or doing as much as I actually am!

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