Bobbie the Poodle is the iFootpath dog (but don’t tell her that – she thinks she is a human!) and she takes her role very seriously. Walking is a serious business for a dog, it’s not just a case of putting one paw in front of the other. There’s so many things to be done on a walk…sniffing, chasing, playing, scent-marking, socialising, hunting. It’s no walk in the park, you know! And I think it is the enthusiasm and joy that most dogs take from their walks, that rubs off on me. Even when it is pouring with rain, Bobbie is enthusiastic to discover the outdoor world and I can’t help but share that enthusiasm.
It turns out that dogs across the country are keeping us more active than you might think. According to the PFMA Pet Population Report 2016, 11 million UK households have pets (that’s 40% of UK households) and more than 6 million UK households have a dog (that’s 24% of UK households). Scotland has the most dogs per household (average of 1.5 per household) and London has the least (average of 1.1 per household). Research by the insurance company esure in 2011 revealed that dog owners walk 23,739 miles during their pet's lifetime - with an average dog owner walking up to 1,855 miles per year.
I know what you’re wondering – how does that compare to those that don’t own a dog? An article in the Telegraph in 2009, reported on a study of 5,000 people; 3,000 dog owners and 2,000 without a dog in the household. The survey showed that having a dog to walk actually encourages regular exercise, with 60% of pet owners saying they always go for a walk with their dog – even when time is precious. On average the dog owners exercise their pet twice a day for 24 minutes each time and, on top of that, the average dog owner also takes their pet out on three long walks each week, a total of nearly 9 hours per week. This means the average dog owner walks about 36 miles per week or 1,872 per year (similar to the findings of the esure study).
But in comparison, those without a dog spend an average of just 1 hour and 20 minutes per week exercising by going to the gym or heading out for a stroll or jog. This is just 14% of the exercise undertaken by the average dog owner – a huge different.
Given this stark contrast I’d like to personally thank all the canine pals across the country that help humans to discover the joys of walking. It seems we couldn’t do it without you! As your own personal thank you to your own furry friend, why not find a new iFootpath adventure for you and your dog this weekend – with fresh smells to be explored, novel wildlife to be discovered and new doggie friends to be made, it will be a joy for you both.
24 February 2017