Dog owners trek 870 miles a year – just while walking their pet, a study has found.
The study of 2,000 adults, including 1,000 dog owners, found those with a pet will walk more than 21 miles a week – covering almost 17 miles alone while taking their beloved pooch out for a stroll.
In comparison, those without a dog to walk will travel less than 14 miles each week.
It also emerged that not only are they fitter, but almost half of dog owners believe having a four-legged friend has improved their overall mental health and reduced their stress levels.
Gemma Cunningham, spokesman for Lintbells, a manufacturer of natural joint supplements for pets which commissioned the research, said: “Dogs can be a great addition to the family and a real incentive to get out and spend some quality time with your family and friends.
“It’s great to see that the results of the survey show how much our dogs have a positive impact on their owner’s lives.
“It is important to take time out of your busy schedule to exercise – both for your own and your canine’s overall health and well-being.
“Just like humans, dogs are social beings and don’t welcome loneliness so getting out and exercising can be a perfect way to leading happier and healthier lives.”
The study found the average pooch is taken on a walk an average of nine times a week, for 34 minutes on each occasion.
With each walk covering almost two miles, that means a total of around five hours a week – or 11 days a year – is spent exercising the dog.
More than a third of dog owners also said they walk further now than they did before getting their four-legged friend.
And three quarters of non-dog owning adults wish they did more walking, with 46 per cent believing they would go out more if they had a pet to exercise.
It also found 23 per cent of dog owners believe their pet has made them more sociable while 16 per cent feel more connected to the community, with the average owner striking up two conversations with fellow dog lovers during each walk.
Dog walking isn’t always perfect though, as before pet owners even step outside the door there will be more than 100 family rows over ‘whose turn it is’ to take the pooch out each year.
More than a third of dog owners also admit they try and pass the walk on to their children – an average of four times a month.
The survey carried out via OnePoll.com also found that although 92 per cent of dog owners say they enjoy walking man’s best friend, three in 10 blame poor weather for not getting out more often.
A quarter don’t have time to walk their dog any more than they already do, while one in five are too busy with work issues.
During the walk, dog owners also use 936 ‘poop bags’, play 2,340 games of fetch and call their pet’s name at least 1,404 times annually.
Lintbells’ Gemma Cunningham added: “The winter months, especially January can make even the best of us feel down in the dumps.
“The cold dreary weather, post-Christmas blues and lack of sleep can make us feel sluggish and overweight.
“At Lintbells, we have always emphasised the importance of staying active as it is the key to a happier and healthier lifestyle, both mentally and physically.
“The results of this survey solidify this claim and we urge all dog and non-dog owners to set aside some time for exercise every day.
“If you’ve got a dog that’s the perfect motivator as well.
“Different breeds and age dogs require different amounts of exercise, so we have developed a handy exercise calculator to check how many miles your dog would benefit from walking each week.”
The new exercise calculator is entirely free to use and can be accessed on www.lintbells.com.