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The interplay between affect, dog's physical activity and dog-owner relationship

By H. Vaataja, P. Majaranta, A. V. Cardo, P. Isokoski, S. Somppi, A. Vehkaoja, O. Vainio, V. Surakka

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Leaving a dog home alone is part of everyday life for most dog owners. Previous research shows that dog–owner relationship has multifarious effects on dog behavior. However, little is known about the interplay between dog–owner relationship, physical activity of the dog, and affective experiences at the time of the owner leaving home and reunion when the owner comes home. In this paper, we explored how the general (daily, home alone, and over the 2-week study period) physical activity of the dog, and owner's perceptions of the dog's affective state were correlated at those particular moments. Nineteen volunteer dog owners had their dogs (N = 19) wear two activity trackers (ActiGraph wGT2X-GT and FitBark2) for 2 weeks 24 h/day. Prior to the 2-week continuous physical activity measurement period, the owners filled in questionnaires about the dog–owner relationship and the dog behavior. In daily questionnaires, owners described and assessed their own and their perception of the emotion-related experiences of their dog and behavior of the dog at the moment of separation and reunion. The results indicated that the dog–owner relationship has an interplay with the mean daily and weekly physical activity levels of the dog. An indication of strong emotional dog–owner relationship (especially related to the attentiveness of the dog, continuous companionship, and time spent together when relaxing) correlated positively with the mean daily activity levels of the dog during the first measurement week of the study. Results also suggest that the mean daily and over the 2-week measurement period physical activity of the dog correlated the affective experiences of the dog and owner as reported by the owner when the dog was left home alone. More research is needed to understand the interplay between affect, physical activity of the dog, dog–owner relationship, and the effects of these factors on, and their interplay with, the welfare of dogs.

Date 2021
Publication Title Frontiers in Veterinary Science
Volume 7
Issue December
DOI 10.3389/fvets.2021.673407
Author Address Research Group for Emotions, Sociality, and Computing, Tampere University, Tampere,
Additional Language English
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Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Activity
  2. Analytics
  3. Animal behavior
  4. Animal physiology
  5. Animals
  6. Animal welfare
  7. Anthrozoology
  8. Behavioral research
  9. Biochemistry
  10. Canidae
  11. Canine
  12. Carnivores
  13. Dogs
  14. Emotions
  15. Europe
  16. Finland
  17. Human development
  18. Income
  19. Mammals
  20. OECD countries
  21. open access
  22. Pets and companion animals
  23. physiology
  24. Physiology and biochemistry
  25. Psychiatry and psychology
  26. Social psychology and social anthropology
  27. vertebrates
  28. Veterinary sciences
  29. Zoology
  1. open access