Next Article in Journal
A Geographical Analysis of Emergency Medical Service Calls and Extreme Heat in King County, WA, USA (2007–2012)
Next Article in Special Issue
Neighbourhood Environmental Attributes Associated with Walking in South Australian Adults: Differences between Urban and Rural Areas
Previous Article in Journal
Identifying Key Performance Indicators for Holistic Hospital Management with a Modified DEMATEL Approach
Previous Article in Special Issue
Facilitators of Physical Activity: Voices of Adolescents in a Disadvantaged Community
Article Menu
Issue 8 (August) cover image

Export Article

Open AccessArticle
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(8), 936; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph14080936

I Walk My Dog Because It Makes Me Happy: A Qualitative Study to Understand Why Dogs Motivate Walking and Improved Health

1
Department of Epidemiology and Population Health, Institute of Infection and Global Health, University of Liverpool, Liverpool L69 7ZX, UK
2
Institute of Veterinary Science, University of Liverpool, Liverpool L69 7ZX, UK
3
Department of Life Sciences, University of Roehampton, London SW15 5PJ, UK
4
Department of Health Services Research, Institute of Psychology, Health and Society, University of Liverpool, Liverpool L69 7ZX, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 19 July 2017 / Revised: 11 August 2017 / Accepted: 16 August 2017 / Published: 19 August 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social and Environmental Influences on Physical Activity Behaviours)
Full-Text   |   PDF [476 KB, uploaded 19 August 2017]   |  

Abstract

Dog walking is a popular everyday physical activity. Dog owners are generally more active than non-owners, but some rarely walk with their dog. The strength of the dog–owner relationship is known to be correlated with dog walking, and this qualitative study investigates why. Twenty-six interviews were combined with autoethnography of dog walking experiences. Dog walking was constructed as “for the dog”, however, owners represented their dog’s needs in a way which aligned with their own. Central to the construction of need was perceptions of dog personality and behaviour. Owners reported deriving positive outcomes from dog walking, most notably, feelings of “happiness”, but these were “contingent” on the perception that their dogs were enjoying the experience. Owner physical activity and social interaction were secondary bonuses but rarely motivating. Perceptions and beliefs of owners about dog walking were continually negotiated, depending on how the needs of the owner and dog were constructed at that time. Complex social interactions with the “significant other” of a pet can strongly motivate human health behaviour. Potential interventions to promote dog walking need to account for this complexity and the effect of the dog-owner relationship on owner mental wellbeing. View Full-Text
Keywords: animals; dogs; exercise; happiness; health behaviour; human-animal interaction; physical activity; qualitative research; walking animals; dogs; exercise; happiness; health behaviour; human-animal interaction; physical activity; qualitative research; walking
Figures

Figure 1

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
SciFeed

Share & Cite This Article

MDPI and ACS Style

Westgarth, C.; Christley, R.M.; Marvin, G.; Perkins, E. I Walk My Dog Because It Makes Me Happy: A Qualitative Study to Understand Why Dogs Motivate Walking and Improved Health. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14, 936.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats

Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Related Articles

Article Metrics

Article Access Statistics

1

Comments

[Return to top]
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health EISSN 1660-4601 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
Back to Top