Dog-walking: motivation for adherence to a walking program

Clin Nurs Res. 2010 Nov;19(4):387-402. doi: 10.1177/1054773810373122. Epub 2010 Jul 22.


Healthy People 2010 cited walking as a major health indicator; however, adherence is challenging, especially among those with multiple chronic illnesses. Studies suggest that walking one's own dog may motivate adherence. However, no research has studied whether walking a "loaner" dog may facilitate adherence. Using a pretest-posttest design, the authors studied adherence to and outcomes of a graduated walking program when 26 public housing residents walked certified therapy dogs with a handler. Participants walked 20 minutes, 5 days/week, for 26 or 50 weeks. In all, 13 participants in the 50-week group had a mean adherence rate of 72% and weight loss of 14.4 pounds (p = .013). Thirteen participants in the 26-week group had a mean adherence rate of 52% and weight loss of 5 pounds (nonsignificant). Participants' most commonly stated reason for adherence was that the dogs "need us to walk them." Commitment to a dog that is not one's own may effectively facilitate physical activity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dogs
  • Health Promotion*
  • Humans
  • Motivation*
  • Patient Compliance*
  • Walking*