There are times walking your dog can get frustrating – you’ve budgeted 30 minutes for a walk around the block and it’s taken your dog 27 minutes to walk 100 feet. You’re tempted to try and get your dog to move it along – but maybe you shouldn’t.
What are the benefits of taking your time when walking your dog?
A non-peer reviewed study of 61 dogs in France documented that dogs’ pulse rates went down every time they stopped to sniff. The more intense the sniffing, the greater the pulse rate reduction. The study inferred that allowing dogs to sniff has a calming effect on dogs, and further noted the amount of time a dog sniffed was linked to the length of the lead. Sniffing time increased 3-fold when a leash was extended from 5’ to 15’, and was extended further when a dog was allowed to walk off-leash. Another sign that sniffing may decrease stress was the observation that dogs did less “full-body shake-outs” (which dogs do to release stress in their bodies) when allowed to sniff at their leisure.
So, what does this mean for your walk?
Bring an extra cup of coffee, maybe plan a trip to Fort Funston or McLaren Park where your dog can wander off leash, or if you’re really fortunate – take a trip to France and replicate the study with your dog. But in any event, try to let your dog take time to smell the roses and pretty much anything else.
Source: Your Dog, October 2022.