Exploring the detailed pattern and correlates of dog walking is crucial to designing effective interventions to increase the proportion of dog walkers. The current study examined the prevalence and pattern of dog walking, the association between dog walking and health-related physical activity, and the correlates of dog walking among dog owners in Japan.
Japanese dog owners’ (n = 930) responses to an Internet-based cross-sectional survey were analyzed. A self-reported measure of physical activity, dog walking characteristics, and sociodemographic and dog-specific variables were obtained. Analyses of covariance and multivariate logistic regressions were used.
Overall, 64.4% of the surveyed dog owners walked their dogs. On an average, they walked their dogs 214.1 ± 189.5 minutes per week. The dog walkers were 3.47 times more likely to meet physical activity recommendations, were significantly less likely to be unmarried (OR = 0.61), and had higher levels of attachment with their dogs (OR = 2.32) than the nondog walkers.
The findings confirmed that dog walking significantly helps dog owners meet physical activity recommendations for health and revealed that dog-specific factors such as dog attachment might be stronger correlates of dog walking than sociodemographic factors.
The authors are with the Faculty of Sport Sciences, Waseda University, Tokorozawa, Japan.