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Given high rates of obesity and chronic disease in both people and dogs, it is important to understand how dogs and dog owners influence each other’s health, including physical activity (PA) levels. Research suggests that dog owners who walk their dogs are more likely to meet PA guidelines than those who do not, but few studies have investigated dog walking intensity or its contribution to dog owners’ total moderate-to-vigorous PA using accelerometry. Furthermore, no studies have examined the contribution of dog walking to dogs’ total PA or the relationship between dog and dog owner PA using accelerometers on dogs. The authors used accelerometers on 33 dog owner–dog pairs to investigate (a) the intensity of dog walking behavior, (b) the contribution of dog walking to dog owners’ overall moderate-to-vigorous PA and dogs’ overall PA, and (c) the correlation between dog and dog owner PA. Dog owners wore an ActiGraph accelerometer and logged all dog walking for 7 days; dogs wore a Fitbark activity monitor. On average, 64.1% (95% confidence interval [55.2, 73.1]) of daily dog walking was moderate to vigorous intensity, and dog walking accounted for 51.2% (95% confidence interval [44.1, 58.3]) of dog owners’ daily moderate-to-vigorous PA. Dog walking accounted for 41.2% (95% confidence interval [36.0, 46.4]) of dogs’ daily PA. Dog owners’ daily steps were moderately correlated (r = .54) with dogs’ daily activity points. These findings demonstrate the interdependence of dog and dog owner PA and can inform interventions that leverage the dog–owner bond to promote PA and health in both species.
Potter, Marcotte, Petrucci, and Rajala are with the Department of Kinesiology, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, MA, USA. Linder is with the Department of Clinical Sciences, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University and Tufts Institute for Human-Animal Interaction, North Grafton, MA, USA. Balzer is with the Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, MA, USA.