This chapter aims to review evidence of the relationships between dog ownership, dog walking and overall walking and the factors associated with dog walking. It reviews the evidence using a social ecological framework. The chapter finds that dog ownership and dog walking are associated with higher levels of walking. A number of social ecological factors are associated with dog walking. Motivation and social support provided by the dog to walk and a sense of responsibility to walk the dog are associated with higher levels of dog walking. Positive social pressure from family, friends, dog owners and veterinarians is also associated with higher levels of dog walking. Built and policy environmental characteristics influence dog walking, including dog-specific factors such as access to local attractive public open space with dog-supportive features (off-leash, dog waste bags, trash cans, signage), pet-friendly destinations (cafes, transit, workplaces, accommodation) and local laws that support dog walking. Large-scale intervention studies are required to determine the effect of increased dog walking on overall walking levels. Experimental study designs, such as natural and quasi-experiments, are needed to provide stronger evidence for causal associations between the built and policy environments and dog walking. Given the potential of dog walking to increase population-levels of walking, urban, park and recreational planners need to design neighbourhood environments that are supportive of dog walking and other physical activity. Advocacy for dog walking policy-relevant initiatives are needed to support dog walking friendly environments. Health promotion practitioners should make dog walking a key strategy in social marketing campaigns.
Hayley Christian is supported by an Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)/National Heart Foundation Early Career Fellowship (#1036350). Gavin McCormack is supported by a Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) New Investigator Award.
Christian, H.E., McCormack, G.R., Evenson, K.R. and Maitland, C. (2017), "Dog Walking", Walking (Transport and Sustainability, Vol. 9), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 113-135. https://doi.org/10.1108/S2044-994120170000009009
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