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How does dog-walking influence perceptions of health and wellbeing in healthy adults? A qualitative dog-walk-along study

By K. Campbell, C. M. Smith, S. Tumilty, C. Cameron, G. J. Treharne

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Abstract

The aim of this study was to explore perceptions of health and wellbeing related to dog-walking in healthy adults. Ten self-reported healthy adult dog-walkers took part in one dog-walk-along interview, and nine of the 10 participants also attended one follow-up participatory analysis session. All interviews took place within the metropolitan area of Dunedin, Aotearoa/New Zealand. Dog-walk-along interviews were participant-led, audio and video recorded, and transcribed. Participants' input into the inductive generation of themes was sought during the follow-up participatory analysis session. Three themes were identified: participants had an "Emotional Connection" with their dog(s); dog-walking led to "Healthy Interactions" (social and environmental interactions); and participants had come to value dog-walking for its aggregate benefits for Psychological Wellbeing. Our dog-walk-along interviews have revealed novel insights about how the emotional connection between human and dog strengthens intrinsic motivation to exercise (through dog-walking) whilst concurrently enhancing human psychological wellbeing through the act of giving something that gives pleasure to the dog. Through the combined methods of dog-walk-along interviews and participatory analysis sessions, we were able to identify negative influences on human psychological wellbeing that included anxiety about both dog behaviors and social encounters with other humans. Positive and negative aspects of dog-walking that we identified can be used by health promotion advocates to refine dog-walking related advice, programs, and initiatives.

Publication Title Anthrozoƶs
Volume 29
Issue 2
Pages 181-192
ISBN/ISSN 0892-7936
Language English
Author Address Centre for Health Activity and Rehabilitation Research, School of Physiotherapy, University of Otago, Otago, New Zealand.cath.smith@otago.ac.nz
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Tags
  1. Animal health and hygiene
  2. Animals
  3. Anthropology
  4. Anthrozoology
  5. APEC countries
  6. Australasia
  7. Canidae
  8. Canine
  9. Carnivores
  10. Commonwealth
  11. Developed countries
  12. Dogs
  13. Emotions
  14. Exercise
  15. Follow-up studies
  16. Health
  17. Health care
  18. Health Promotion
  19. Health services
  20. Humans
  21. Interactions
  22. interviews
  23. Mammals
  24. Men
  25. Nations
  26. New Zealand
  27. Oceania
  28. OECD countries
  29. Pets and companion animals
  30. Primates
  31. Psychiatry and psychology
  32. Social psychology and social anthropology
  33. urban areas
  34. vertebrates
  35. Veterinary sciences
  36. Zoology