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Article

Exploring Owner Perceptions of the Impacts of Seasonal Weather Variations on Canine Activity and Potential Consequences for Human–Canine Relationships

1
School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences, Nottingham Trent University, Brackenhurst, Nottingham NG25 0QF, UK
2
Department of Veterinary Health & Animal Sciences, Harper Adams University, Newport TF10 8NB, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Naomi Harvey, Jenna Kiddie and Robert Christley
Animals 2021, 11(11), 3302; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11113302
Received: 1 October 2021 / Revised: 10 November 2021 / Accepted: 17 November 2021 / Published: 19 November 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Barriers to and Drivers of Responsible Dog Ownership)
Dog walking is important for maintaining the good health and welfare of pet dogs. Environmental factors such as weather conditions have been previously identified as potential barriers to dog walking but, so far, focus has been on the impact this has on the human. With more seasonal weather variation predicted due to climate change, it is unclear if weather also impacts on the willingness of dogs to undertake exercise and thus the overall activity levels of pet dogs. An online survey recruited 3153 respondents to outline the impact of summer and winter weather conditions on daily canine activity levels. Owners reported their dogs were more impacted by cold (48.2% less likely to exercise their dog in the cold) and ice (64.0% less likely), than rain (25.3% less likely). In hot weather, 81.7% of owners reported reduced exercise duration and 87.0% reported less vigorous exercise by their dogs. As extreme weather events are likely to become more commonplace, it is likely this will negatively impact dog activity levels. Climate change mitigation strategies must therefore include considerations for dogs, if our canine companions are to retain their positions of service and companionship.
Climate change is leading to more instances of seasonal weather variation. Studies have explored the impact of adverse winter weather on dog walking, but the impact on the dog’s overall activity levels have not been previously considered. This study explored dog owner perceptions of the effects of both summer and winter weather on their dog’s activity levels. An international online survey recruited 3153 respondents between May and December 2018, to explore the impact of summer and winter weather conditions on baseline activity levels. Owners reported their dogs were more impacted by cold (48.2% less likely to exercise their dog in the cold) and ice (64.0% less likely), than rain (25.3% were less likely). In hot weather, over 80% of owners reported reduced exercise duration and vigour for their dogs. Carrying water or walking near water to facilitate activity in the summer was the most popular mitigation strategy (90.8%). Participation in dog sports appeared to reduce the impact of winter weather on canine activity and increase owner awareness of cooling strategies to facilitate summer activity. Strategies to promote safe activity participation are needed to maintain canine activity levels amidst rising global temperatures, including better understanding of cooling strategies for exercising dogs. View Full-Text
Keywords: climate change; human canine interaction; dog walking; canine sports climate change; human canine interaction; dog walking; canine sports
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MDPI and ACS Style

Hall, E.J.; Carter, A.J.; Farnworth, M.J. Exploring Owner Perceptions of the Impacts of Seasonal Weather Variations on Canine Activity and Potential Consequences for Human–Canine Relationships. Animals 2021, 11, 3302. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11113302

AMA Style

Hall EJ, Carter AJ, Farnworth MJ. Exploring Owner Perceptions of the Impacts of Seasonal Weather Variations on Canine Activity and Potential Consequences for Human–Canine Relationships. Animals. 2021; 11(11):3302. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11113302

Chicago/Turabian Style

Hall, Emily J., Anne J. Carter, and Mark J. Farnworth. 2021. "Exploring Owner Perceptions of the Impacts of Seasonal Weather Variations on Canine Activity and Potential Consequences for Human–Canine Relationships" Animals 11, no. 11: 3302. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11113302

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