Taking on the Ultimate ‘Walkies’ Challenge

We always love seeing plenty of Kiltwalking dogs on event day! Our friends from the PDSA have some tips for anyone thinking of taking their four legged friend along on the big day.

Regular exercise is really important for our canine companions. Not only does it help keep them in shape, it’s essential for their mental health too. And walkies are a great way to keep them (and you!) fit, healthy and happy.

Leading pet wellbeing charity PDSA shares some tips for planning a walking challenge with your dog.

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Making plans

If you think your dog will relish a big fundraising event with lots of other four-legged participants, then the first step is to develop a realistic training plan. This should allow plenty of time for you and your pooch to build up gradually to the distance. Check with your vet that your planned exercise is suitable for your dog: you may have no problems walking a half marathon, but some dogs may struggle.

As a general rule, the amount of daily exercise your dog can manage will depend on their breed, age, fitness and personality. Healthy adult dogs can usually walk further and faster than older ones, whereas young pups tire easily and shouldn’t go long distances.

Flat-faced, short-nosed dogs like Pugs and Bulldogs may have trouble breathing if they work too hard, especially if the weather is warm. Some dogs are keen to please and may not be aware of their own limits, so you’ll need to think ahead so they don’t get overtired.

Training tips

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• Frequent short walks are better than one long one – aim to build walking into your daily routine, rather than going for long walks only at weekends.
• Exercise at your dog’s pace and build up their fitness gradually – consider what your dog can realistically manage without causing any harm.
• Adapt to weather conditions – hot weather can cause problems for dogs. If it’s warm, think about going early in the morning, or late evening. Dogs will still be keen to go out in rain and even snow, but take steps to make sure you are seen in poor visibility e.g. wearing reflective clothing or getting a reflective collar for your dog.
• Vary your route to keep walks interesting and exciting for your pooch.
• Allow time for your dog to have a good sniff around – this is really important for their mental health. Have pauses in your walk to let your dog explore the surroundings with their nose.
• Lead on – especially when exercising in built-up areas. Only let your dog off the lead when it’s absolutely safe. And don’t forget, it’s a legal requirement for dogs to be microchipped and wear a collar with an identifying tag.
‘Walkies’ day
• Do a final check-in – if your dog’s feeling under the weather on the day, or it’s scorching hot, it’s best to err on the side of caution and leave them at home. They won’t thank you for being dragged round, even if it is for charity! (And if you need to leave them home alone, remember to recruit a pal to take them for a walk and a wee while you’re out).
• Don’t forget your sunscreen – pets need sunscreen too, particularly those with light-coloured fur, and pay attention to ears and noses.
• Stay hydrated – bring plenty of water and your own dog bowl.
• Fuel your walk – like you, your dog should have a good breakfast (but not just before exercise) and some (preferably healthy) snacks to keep them going.
• In case of an emergency – store your vet’s number on your phone and check with organisers if there are any animal first aiders on standby.
With the right preparation and planning, you and your pooch will enjoy the walk immensely. As well as raising lots of money for worthy causes, it’s a great bonding experience!

For more tips and advice on keeping your dog healthy and happy, visit pdsa.org.uk