Guide Dog puppy in a harness

The annual fundraising challenge encourages people to commit to walking their pooches 30 minutes a day for 30 days during August, which, according to Dognitive Therapist and PAWGUST Ambassador Laura Vissaritis (known as Laura V), could do wonders for a dog’s mental health and happiness.

“Dogs and humans are more similar than you might think! The link between exercise and improved mental health for people exists for dogs as well. Exercise releases neurotransmitters, such as endorphins, oxytocin and serotonin into the brain, all which aid in pain relief, happiness and optimism for our dogs.”

With only 30% of owners reportedly walking their dog every day, Laura V says Australians could be ignoring a vital way to ensure their pups are feeling their healthiest and happiest. She is urging all owners to consider the positive impact that committing to walking 30 minutes a day for PAWGUST could have on their pup.

“Dogs crave consistency and purpose, so an initiative such as PAWGUST has a multitude of benefits. You’re making a commitment to regular exercise, which is healthy for dogs and owners, all while raising funds for Guide Dogs Australia.”

According to Laura V, there are some obvious signs and symptoms that dogs are experiencing poor mental health or anxiety; these include barking, loss of appetite or trying to escape, but not every sign is so easy to read.

“Sometimes, the body language we perceive as excitement or happiness are in fact a sign that a dog is feeling anxious. Things like certain tail wags can indicate your dog is actually experiencing distress,” said Laura V. 

“There are certain activities dog owners should implement to maintain the health and happiness of their dog. These include dog walking, problem-solving activities, exploring new places and socialisation with other dogs,” said Laura V.

Guide Dogs Australia is calling on Aussies to walk their dogs daily this PAWGUST

Guide Dog Training Manager at Guide Dogs NSW/ACT, Eddie Sullivan said, “Australian dog owners need to be walking their dog every day – not just for their wellbeing, but for the mental and physical wellbeing of their best mate. Getting behind a great cause like PAWGUST, Aussie dogs and their owners can improve their mental health while raising funds for an important cause”.

“Guide Dogs Australia plays a critical role in enabling people with impaired vision to move around their communities safely and independently, by providing orientation and mobility services, including Guide Dogs. Guide Dogs are also a source of constant support and companionship,” Mr Sullivan went on to say.  “It costs $50,000 to raise and train a guide dog, so we’d love the support of as many Australians as possible to provide the best services possible to people living with vision impairment”.

This PAWGUST, Australians can pledge to walk their best mate for 30 minutes a day for 30 days via and ask their friends and family to sponsor them to raise vital funds for Guide Dogs Australia. 

Editor notes: The Australian Dog Owners survey is based on a survey of 1,000 Australian dog owners, conducted via online survey method through Pure Profile in 2018.

Additional findings from Guide Dogs Australia’s Aussie Dog Owner survey:

  • 1 in 10 (13%) dog owners do not walk their dog at all
  • One third (33%) of Australian dog owners say their dog only gets walked twice a week or less.
  • 42% of dog owners attribute lack of time as the reason they don’t walk their dogs more frequently, followed by weather (35%)
  • 63% of Australian dog owners say they feel happier/healthier after walking their dogs.
  • 29% of dog owners walk their dog for 30 minutes or less


Back for its second year, PAWGUST is an initiative from Guide Dogs Australia that is encouraging Australian dog owners to challenge themselves to walk their dogs for thirty minutes a day for thirty days in August to raise vital funds that help to support people living with vision loss or blindness. It costs in excess of 50,000 to breed, raise and train a Guide Dog or Assistance Dog. Register at:

The impact:

  • $22: Will provide a quality leather dog collar for a Guide Dog pup in training.
  • $54: Will help purchase a folding white cane for someone living with vision loss.
  • $85: Will help purchase a grooming kit and a bundle of enrichment toys for a puppy raiser.
  • $175: Will provide a new Guide Dog user with a Guide Dog instructor for one hour.
  • $290: Will purchase a harness for a working Guide Dog.


Laura Vissaritis (B.A., B.Sc., Grad Dip Ed., Int. Psych Yale., Grad Dip Psych., NDTF (Cert IV))

Laura is the founder of Dognitive Therapy. Her expertise revolves around helping people understand their dogs; how they feel, how they think – to the benefit of both pup and owner.

She is the author of two books (Dognitive Therapy and Things Your Dog Wants You To Know), with a third due out in September 2019 (The Rescue Dog). As an expert in dog behaviour, she has made numerous radio and television appearances, educating Australians on a myriad of dog related subjects including, aggression, walking on lead, loneliness, training and more.

Media enquiries

Casey Walton, PR Coordinator, Guide Dogs NSW/ACT: 02 9412 9303, 0448 863 226,