Dog walking: its association with physical activity guideline adherence and its correlates

Prev Med. 2011 Jan;52(1):33-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2010.10.011. Epub 2010 Nov 1.


Objective: We examined the prevalence and correlates of dog walking among dog owners, and whether dog walking is associated with meeting the American College of Sports Medicine/American Heart Association physical activity guidelines.

Methods: In March 2008, we mailed a survey to dog-owning clients from two San Diego County veterinary clinics. Useable data were obtained from 984 respondents, and 75 of these completed retest surveys. We assessed associations between potential correlates and dog walking (i.e., yes/no dog walking for at least 10 min in past week).

Results: Test-retest reliability of measures was generally high. Approximately one-third of the sample (31.5%) were not dog walkers. Proportions of dog walkers versus non-dog walkers meeting United States guidelines were 64.3% and 55.0%, respectively. Dog walking was independently associated with meeting guidelines in a multivariate model (odds ratio=1.59, p=0.004). Three variables were independently associated with dog walking in a multivariate model: dog encouragement of dog walking, dog-walking obligation, and dog-walking self-efficacy.

Conclusion: Dog walking was associated with meeting physical activity guidelines, making it a viable method for promoting physical activity. Dog-walking obligation and self-efficacy may be important mediators of dog walking and may need to be targeted if interventions are to be successful.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Animals
  • California
  • Dogs
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Guidelines as Topic*
  • Health Promotion
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pets*
  • Walking*