Join our Paws & Shoes Challenge and raise money for a life-saving animal hospital
This winter, team up with your pooch for a four-week dog-walking challenge. Join and get a gift for your dog!
In 2023 over 50 dogs joined our Paws & Shoes Challenge. They raised nearly £5,000 for the RVC's Small Animal Referrals Hospital. Will you join us this year? Together with your pooch, you can make a difference. Help the RVC save even more lives with every step you take.
Can you walk for 1,000 minutes in 4 weeks?
Paws & Shoes is for everyone and every dog! Whatever your fitness level, health or age - you can tailor this challenge to meet the needs of you and your dog(s). You can decide how many minutes you'll walk. In fact, you can even decide when you start your 4-week challenge! It's much more fun to set a challenge that is achievable - not too hard but not too easy either - and one that fits in with any winter sunshine getaways you have planned!
How many minutes will your team walk? Previously, one owner surpassed their expectations and achieved a whopping 5,500 minutes! While other teams reduced the challenge to meet their needs. What will your team do?
When can you start? You can start your challenge when it's right for you. You'll have between 1 February and 30 April 2024 to sign up.
It's a fantastic chance to raise money to help advance veterinary care, get fit and give your dog an excuse to howl at you for more walks!
When you sign-up, we ask for a £5 registration fee for each dog. You can choose your gift - a bandana or a dog tag for your teammate to wear! Plus, you'll get a weekly tracker and a fundraising pack with a sponsorship form to download.
Read our Top 10 Tips
Set your challenge off on the right foot, and paw!
1. Walk when its light, if you can. Try to walk your dog during daylight hours. It's usually a bit warmer when it’s light, plus it’s easier to see hazards.
2. Stay seen. If you can’t walk your dog during daylight hours, take extra precautions on those darker walks. Use LED collars, hi-vis leads and coats to make sure both you and your pooch can be seen. Keep a torch handy to spot any uneven ground or obstacles.
3. Keep warm. Sometimes your dog’s fur will keep them warm enough. For those colder days, and especially for older dogs and those with thinner coats, a warm waterproof coat can keep them warm and dry. Don’t forget about yourself! Thermal vests, gloves, hats, scarves, thick socks and sturdy waterproof shoes all make a difference.
4. Look after muddy paws. When you return from your walk remember to dry and clean your dogs’ paws if they are muddy, have salt or grit on them.
5. Carry a mobile phone and let someone know where you're heading and when you'll be back.
6. Find walking companions. Can you encourage your friends or family to join you? Time flies when you're chatting!
7. Gradually increase the minutes you and your dog walk for. They will need time to build their stamina, just like their humans! Remember you may need to keep walks shorter in colder weather.
8. Give your dog a rest day if they need it. You can still walk without them! Take extra care especially with older dogs. Just like us, colder weather can make older dogs joints feel stiff. If your pooch has joint stiffness, keep walks short and avoid slippery surfaces.
9. Develop a routine and prioritise the time. Set clear intentions of how long you'll walk for and when, so that on the day the decision is already made. New behaviours can take time to establish, so set an alarm on your phone. As soon as longer dog walks become the new norm, your pooch will probably even start reminding you when it's time for your walks!
10. Stay motivated! Take photos on your walks to remind yourself of the good times you've shared with your pooch. Don't forget to update your JustGiving page! Let your supporters know how you're doing. When you see the donations, you'll have an extra incentive to keep going.
"We loved taking part in Paws & Shoes. It got us all fit, took us to new places - trying to think of somewhere different to go to get those 'paws' hitting the floor was half the fun! Everyone needs to exercise more and what better way to start the year off?!
My top tip would be don't worry about how much money you raise, it really is all about taking part. Once you pop the sponsor form online, tell your friends, colleagues and family what you're doing. It's a brilliant charity and a lesser known one so let's get it out there! The girls and I were blown away by peoples' generosity, even little bits from people soon adds up."
Jenni, Fleur and Karenza's owner
Why walk your dog?
Keeping your dog trim, healthy and mentally stimulated is vital to a long and happy life. Plus, it's good for humans too! Here's 5 reasons to step outside this winter.
1. It stops boredom. Your dog will thank you for new opportunities to discover the sights, sounds and smells of this world! Don't leave all the fun to them, what will you discover?
2. It's a chance for socialisation. Dogs and humans enjoy the company of others. Interactions with others can ease loneliness. Who knows what friendships may blossom when you start meeting other dog walkers.
3. It can improve a dog's behaviour. The more walking you do, the more your dog gets used to walking on a lead and following commands such as 'stay' and 'sit'. Take healthy treats and use positive tones of voice to reward them when they get it right.
4. Exercise helps you both to rest well when you get home. Longer walks can often help you sleep better at night so you wake up feeling refreshed.
5. It's a stealthy form of exercise that we don't really notice and can help improve our general health. From preventing unnecessary weight gain, to de-stressing from the day, it's a great way to nourish our mind and body. That goes for dogs too!