A new campaign is challenging dog owners to walk their pets every day to get both man and dog exercising more frequently.

Walk Your Dog Week – spearheaded by Forestry Commission England and supported by PDSA, The Kennel Club, Dogs Trust and Yellow Dog UK – aims to tackle pet obesity while getting dog owners to meet the Government recommendations for 30 minutes of exercise a day.

According to the commission, it is estimated 35% of UK dogs (2.7m) do not get daily supervised exercise and one-third of pets are overweight as a result of their owners’ sedentary lifestyles. Therefore, the Walk Your Dog Week challenge – held from April 28 until May 5 – has been developed with vets at PDSA to stimulate a change among dog owners to help transform the health and wellbeing of their dogs.

Forestry Commission England’s chief executive Simon Hodgson said the commission was recommending dog walkers head for one of its 1,500 woods and forests for walking locations, as a change of scene can be a “great boost” to motivation.

“They are the perfect place for dogs to get supervised exercise, including time off the lead, and explore the natural environment,” he said.

According to the commission, its sites offer “great opportunities” to exercise dogs off the lead, which means canine companions and their owners can take the opportunity to get some great exercise.

To help dog owners make the most of their visits, the commission has published the Ruff Guide to the Forest, offering local information on dog-friendly activities in more than 35 woods and forests and their surrounding areas. Many of these woods and forests have dog agility trails and way-marked trails, it said, offering physical challenges for dogs and owners.

Caroline Kisko, secretary of The Kennel Club, said Walk Your Dog Week fitted with the club’s promotion of responsible dog ownership.

“We are thrilled to be able to support it,” she said. “The campaign encourages dog owners to get out and about with their four-legged friends, making sure they get an appropriate level of regular exercise, which is a big part of being a responsible owner.

“No matter where you live, you are never far from Forestry Commission woodland. We’d recommend responsible owners make the most of this and go and explore the best of the British countryside with your dog.”

For more information and to download the Ruff Guide to the Forest, visit the Forestry Commission’s website.

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