Issue addressed: This qualitative research explored the relationship between dog ownership and dog-related, social environmental and physical environmental factors associated with walking with a dog.
Methods: Seven focus groups with dog owners (n=51) were conducted. A pre-determined discussion guide was used and transcripts were analysed as group data, using content analysis to identify common themes.
Results: Many of the physical environmental barriers and facilitators that influenced dog owners to walk were similar to those found in the literature for general walking. However, a number of key motivators for walking, specific to dog owners, were identified. Dog owners reported that their dog was a strong source of motivation, companionship and social support that encouraged them to walk with their dog. The availability and accessibility of public open space (POS) for dogs and the provision of dog-related infrastructure within POS were also important environmental factors that affected whether owners walked with their dog.
Conclusions: Results from this qualitative study were used to develop the Dogs and Physical Activity (DAPA) tool which is now being used to measure the walking behaviour of dog owners.