Sizing up physical activity: the relationships between dog characteristics, dog owners’ motivations & dog walking

– Content and Marketing Coordinator, Press Office at EmmanuelleChaix

The objective of the study published by the University of Victoria, Canada, and accepted in January 2016, was to examine the relationships between dog characteristics, dog owners’ perceptions of responsibility and attachment to their dogs, and the qualities of dog owner exercise motivations (self-determined regulations) with dog walking behaviour.

Regular dog walking is likely a symbiotic relationship between the needs of the dog and its owner. This relationship has seen limited attention.

Participants were 228 adult dog owners who completed an online survey that included demographics, dog walking, dog responsibility/attachment and exercise regulations.

A sense of responsibility to walk the dog, generally the most reliable correlate in past dog walking research, appears to align with more self-determined forms of motivation than controlled. The findings, however, support the premise that dog walking behaviour may be a complex mix of human and dog-related factors. This dog and owner relationship may need consideration for successful future dog walking promotion initiatives.


Some highlights from the study:

  • Dog owners who valued and enjoyed dog walking engaged in more dog walking.
  • Dog owners’ engagement in dog walking was not solely based on guilt or duty.
  • Self-determination theory examined dog owner motivation towards dog walking.
  • Owning larger dogs and higher energy dogs resulted in higher levels of walking.


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