January is officially Walk Your Pet Month, and we couldn’t think of a nicer way to get the year off to a great start. No matter what kind of pet you have, there are many ways you both can benefit:

Getting out in nature is good for everyone. As the National Wildlife Federation’s treaty on health benefits states, “Nature makes you nicer, enhancing social interactions, value for community and close relationships.” Feeling the earth under your feet is a great way to feel (ahem) more grounded. Fresh air can help you to lift your mood and make a change in your attitude.

A change can do you good. Whether you listen to music or to the sounds of your neighborhood, taking a walk with your pet can help you see things in a whole new perspective. When you walk, think about what Sir Barkington may be smelling or seeing from his height. What does he find interesting? And does that spark something in you?

Don’t be sedentary. You may not want to walk for yourself, but what if you knew it would improve the well-being of your four-legged friend? Numerous studies show improved benefits with an exercise buddy – they keep you accountable and make the experience more fun. Nobody said Buddy had to be human.

Off the chain. We’ve mentioned earlier that this is also Unchain a Dog Month. If you know a neighbor or friend who can’t get out enough to walk their dog, make an offer to take Guard Dog off the chain and go for a walk together. Be kind. It will do you both a world of good.

Give that fitbit/pedometer a run for its money. If you need an extra push to get started, an activity monitor may do the trick. It’s satisfying to see steps taken and goals met, especially if you reward yourself and your pet for reaching them. And just think – however many steps you’ve taken, your pet’s taken at least four times that. Worth celebrating!

Special time with your companion animal. Along with the physical and spiritual aspects of walking, emotional needs can be met simply spending time with your pet. Author Josh Billings says “A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.” Go for a quiet walk and bask in some of that love. And give love back in return.

Be smart. Of course, it’s always a good resolution to be sensible. Be alert for any possible dangers for you or your pets and use good judgement. There’s no reason you and Fluffy can’t take a stroll inside if that’s what works best for her, or have short bursts of activity with your pet instead of going for a 5-mile hike. The main thing is to get up and move, and to spend special time with your best furry (or scaly, or hairy) friend.

What’s your favorite reason for walking with your pet? Let us know on the MUTTS website or on our Facebook page. And to make sure you don’t miss out on any MUTTS news, sign up for our Daily MUTTS email on the MUTTS.com homepage.

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