Examining the Contribution of Dog Walking to Total Daily Physical Activity Among Dogs and Their Owners

in Journal for the Measurement of Physical Behaviour
View More View Less
  • 1 University of Massachusetts Amherst
  • 2 Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University and Tufts Institute for Human-Animal Interaction
Restricted access

Purchase article

USD  $24.95

Student 1 year online subscription

USD  $38.00

1 year online subscription

USD  $51.00

Student 2 year online subscription

USD  $73.00

2 year online subscription

USD  $97.00

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.

Potter (katie.potter@umass.edu) is corresponding author.
  • Aadland, E., & Ylvisåker, E. (2015). Reliability of the Actigraph GT3X+ accelerometer in adults under free-living conditions. PLoS One, 10(8), e0134606. PubMed ID: 26274586 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Antonacopoulous, N., & Pychyl, T. (2018). An examination of the possible physical activity and short-term health benefits associated with dog walking. Human-Animal Interaction Bulletin, 6(2), 2543.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Banfield Pet Hospital. (2017). Banfield State of Pet Health® 2017 report. Retrieved from https://www.banfield.com/state-of-pet-health

  • Bomberg, E., Birch, L., Endenburg, N., German, A.J., Neilson, J., Seligman, H., . . . Day, M.J. (2017). The financial costs, behaviour and psychology of obesity: A One Health analysis. Journal of Comparative Pathology, 156(4), 310325. PubMed ID: 28460796 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Carey, V.J. (2015). Gee: Generalized Estimation Equation Solver. R package version 4.13-19. Retrieved from https://CRAN.R-project.org/package=gee

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Chandler, M., Cunningham, S., Lund, E.M., Khanna, C., Naramore, R., Patel, A., & Day, M.J. (2017). Obesity and associated comorbidities in people and companion animals: A One Health perspective. Journal of Comparative Pathology, 156(4), 296309. PubMed ID: 28460795 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Chen, K.Y., & Bassett, D.R. (2005). The technology of accelerometry-based activity monitors: Current and future. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 37(11), S490S500. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Choi, L., Liu, Z., Matthews, C.E., & Buchowski, M.S. (2011). Validation of accelerometer wear and nonwear time classification algorithm. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 43(2), 357364. PubMed ID: 20581716 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Christian, H.E., Westgarth, C., Bauman, A., Richards, E.A., Rhodes, R.E., Evenson, K.R., . . . Thorpe, R.J. (2013). Dog ownership and physical activity: A review of the evidence. Journal of Physical Activity & Health, 10(5), 750759. PubMed ID: 23006510 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Coleman, K.J., Rosenberg, D.E., Conway, T.L., Sallis, J.F., Saelens, B.E., Frank, L.D., & Cain, K. (2008). Physical activity, weight status, and neighborhood characteristics of dog walkers. Preventive Medicine, 47(3), 309312. PubMed ID: 18572234 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Cutt, H.E., Knuiman, M.W., & Giles-Corti, B. (2008). Does getting a dog increase recreational walking? The International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 5(1), 17. PubMed ID: 18366804 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Dall, P.M., Ellis, S.L.H., Ellis, B.M., Grant, P.M., Colyer, A., Gee, N.R., . . . Mills, D.S. (2017). The influence of dog ownership on objective measures of free-living physical activity and sedentary behaviour in community-dwelling older adults: A longitudinal case-controlled study. BMC Public Health, 17(1). doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Freedson, P.S., Melanson, E., & Sirard, J. (1998). Calibration of the Computer Science and Applications, Inc. accelerometer. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 30(5), 777781. PubMed ID: 9588623 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hales, C.M., Fryar, C.D., Carroll, M.D., Freedman, D.S., & Ogden, C.L. (2018). Trends in obesity and severe obesity prevalence in US youth and adults by sex and age, 2007-2008 to 2015-2016. JAMA, 319(16), 17231725. PubMed ID: 29570750 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Liang, K.-Y., & Zeger, S.L. (1986). Longitudinal data analysis using generalized linear models. Biometrika, 73(1), 1322. doi:

  • Linder, D., & Mueller, M. (2014). Pet obesity management: Beyond nutrition. Veterinary Clinics of North America: Small Animal Practice, 44(4), 789806. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lyden, K., Keadle, S.K., Staudenmayer, J., & Freedson, P.S. (2014). A method to estimate free-living active and sedentary behavior from an accelerometer. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 46(2), 386397. PubMed ID: 23860415 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • One Health | CDC. (2020, September 14). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/onehealth/index.html

  • Potter, K., & Sartore-Baldwin, M. (2019). Dogs as support and motivation for physical activity. Current Sports Medicine Reports, 18(7), 275. PubMed ID: 31283629 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Potter, K., Teng, J.E., Masteller, B., Rajala, C., & Balzer, L.B. (2019). Examining how dog “acquisition” affects physical activity and psychosocial well-being: Findings from the BuddyStudy pilot trial. Animals, 9(9). doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Rhodes, R.E., Murray, H., Temple, V.A., Tuokko, H., & Higgins, J.W. (2012). Pilot study of a dog walking randomized intervention: Effects of a focus on canine exercise. Preventive Medicine, 54(5), 309312. PubMed ID: 22405707 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Richards, E.A. (2016). Does dog walking predict physical activity participation: Results from a national survey. American Journal of Health Promotion: AJHP, 30(5), 323330. PubMed ID: 27404640 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Richards, E.A., Troped, P.J., & Lim, E. (2014). Assessing the intensity of dog walking and impact on overall physical activity: A pilot study using accelerometry. Open Journal of Preventive Medicine, 4 , 523–528. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Sandøe, P., Palmer, C., Corr, S., Astrup, A., & Bjørnvad, C.R. (2014). Canine and feline obesity: A One Health perspective. Veterinary Record, 175(24), 610616.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Serpell, J. (1991). Beneficial effects of pet ownership on some aspects of human health and behaviour. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 84(12), 717720. PubMed ID: 1774745 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Soares, J., Epping, J.N., Owens, C.J., Brown, D.R., Lankford, T.J., Simoes, E.J., & Caspersen, C.J. (2015). Odds of getting adequate physical activity by dog walking. Journal of Physical Activity & Health, 12(Suppl. 1), S102S109. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Thorpe, R.J., Simonsick, E.M., Brach, J.S., Ayonayon, H., Satterfield, S., Harris, T.B., . . . Health, Aging and Body Composition Study. (2006). Dog ownership, walking behavior, and maintained mobility in late life. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 54(9), 14191424. PubMed ID: 16970652 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Westgarth, C., Christley, R.M., & Christian, H.E. (2014). How might we increase physical activity through dog walking?: A comprehensive review of dog walking correlates. The International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 11(1), 83. PubMed ID: 25142228 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Westgarth, C., Christley, R.M., Jewell, C., German, A.J., Boddy, L.M., & Christian, H.E. (2019). Dog owners are more likely to meet physical activity guidelines than people without a dog: An investigation of the association between dog ownership and physical activity levels in a UK community. Scientific Reports, 9(1), 5704. PubMed ID: 31000795 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 457 458 131
Full Text Views 11 11 0
PDF Downloads 4 4 0