Oh the joys of having dogs – the endless cuddles and affection, the mess and dirt, and having to walk them every single day, come rain hail or shine! Although the joy of watching your dog sniff and pee on everything may wear out over time, you shouldn’t be tempted to use your phone whilst walking your dog. For a starters, it can be dangerous – for your dog, other people, and yourself if you are not watching what’s happening around you. But more than this, walking your dog should be a special activity you share, a time when you can enjoy the great outdoors together and really disconnect.
Smartphones have taken over our lives – we constantly have them in our hands, or nearby, and are constantly checking them for new tweets, Whatsapp messages, or news updates. It’s almost as if our phones have become an extension of who we are, and the thought of functioning without them – even for a 30 minute dog walk – is impossible. The digital, online world is an ever present part of our 21st century reality.
This is exactly why it’s important for you to leave the phone behind when walking your dog. You should take a break from the constantly connected online world and connect with the outside world instead. Your pup will thank you for it – you will be more alert and present when walking them, and you will inevitably give them more attention!
No walking into lampposts, quality time with your baby and mama nature – what more could a dog mom/dad wish for?
So, if you can’t possibly resist checking your emails or texting your work colleague for that catchup you have been meaning to have forever, check out these reasons why you should get off your phone whilst walking your pooch.
- Safety First
It would be nice to live in a world where there were no dangers walking our dogs, but unfortunately there are all kinds of things to watch out for. The most obvious is traffic – your dog could run under the wheels of the car whilst you are too busy posting an Instagram of your dinner!
The reverse of this is that you need to watch out for your own safety, too. I was once walking my dog in the pouring rain, headphones in, listening to a podcast. My dog stopped dead on the leash and wouldn’t move an inch. It was only when I took my headphones out I realized there was a car honking at me for walking out in front of it!
Being aware of our surroundings may sound obvious, but it happens all too often that people walk into lampposts or poles because they’re looking at their phone instead of the world! You could fall into cracks or twist your ankle, too, so save the web surfing for a safer spot – like the couch!
- Your Dog Might Be Eating Literal Poop
If you’ve ever owned a dog, you know they love to eat interesting things whilst out walks – if they can get away with it!
This can include everything from spoiled, thrown away food to other dog’s poop – neither of which are going to be pretty when they upset your pooch’s stomach! On a more serious note, your dog could eat something lethal – plastic, which is indigestible and may cause serious stomach problems, or poison!
- Nature is Beautiful
Seriously, there’s a reason they call it the great outdoors. Unless you’re choosing to walk your mutt around an industrial estate, chances are there’s some pretty nice views and scenes to observe. From forests of trees to rolling hills, there’s a lot to see in the natural world – and even if you live in a city, there should be some parks you can walk around and enjoy Mother Nature’s beauty.
And don’t use the lack of a park as an excuse – there’s plenty things to see around cities too, if you only look closely enough. Nature is everywhere – in the clouds in the sky, and in the tiny plants peeping up through cracks in the concrete.
You don’t need to live in the country to appreciate how beautiful our world is. What you do need to do, is put away your smartphone, and look around you.
- Disconnecting is Healthy
As little as a half-hour break from the internet can do you a world of good! Your eyes will get a break from the screen, you’ll get less headaches, and your mind will have a chance to ‘switch off’ – or switch on, depending on your perspective.
Becoming more aware of our surroundings and living in the present has proven benefits. You only need to look at the increasing population of meditation and mindfulness to understand that. So, make your dog-walking time your dedicated time to disconnect, and re-connect to your body, yourself, and your surroundings.
- Your Pup Will Thank You For It!
This is probably the singular most important reason to put your phone away (that’s why it’s been saved for last) – your dog wants to spend time with you!
Walks are a happy, joyous time for dogs, a time they can get out of the house and are free to run around, explore, and play. They want to share this time with you – not with a phone-watching zombie!
Did you know that too much time staring at your phone can actually make your dog depressed? One expert has noted that too much phone-time and not enough doggy-attention time damages owner’s emotional bonds with their pooches. This is particularly serious if you are your dog’s sole owner – they feel neglected, lonely and isolated, without a proper pack member to interact with. What follows is behavioral problems and depression.
So, try to be more conscious of how much time you are spending on your phone, and how much with your dog. If there is a discrepancy, try to be more present with your pup.
Quality time with their pack leader is something all dog’s want, and need!