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The science behind why we take dogs for walks

Pete Wedderburn - Animal Doctor


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Dog walking has become a popular activity

Dog walking has become a popular activity

Dog walking has become a popular activity

Dog walking is an activity that is very much a part of contemporary culture. In Ireland, 34% of households own dogs (this compares with 24% in the UK, 38% in the USA and 39% in Australia). Dog ownership has become a key part of twenty first century life. And if you have a dog, part of the responsibility of ownership is a commitment to taking the animal for a walk.

It didn't used to be like this: a generation ago, dogs in Ireland used to take themselves for walks. There wasn't so much traffic, and dogs spent their time idling around the garden, with the gate left open. If their owner went to the shops, they might follow them, or if the dog felt like going for a wander to see the neighbours, that was fine too. Perhaps in some relatively sparsely populated parts of Ireland, dogs still live this types of unfettered existence.

However, as the world has become busier and more congested, it is no longer tenable to allow dogs to live their own independent way like this. It has become dangerous to allow dogs to roam freely, with the risk of road traffic accidents, bite injuries to passers-by, and other hazards. The laws of the land have changed, and people are held accountable for the actions of their dogs. So if your dog roams and causes problems, you will have to carry the responsibility and pay any costs associated with damage.