Study: You Walk Your Dog For Happy Reasons, Not Health Reasons
So, it may seem like a case of, “Well, of course!” but researchers with the University of Liverpool have found that dog owners are not necessarily as motivated to walk their dogs for health or social benefits, but simply because walking with them makes them feel happy.
The researchers looked in-depth at 26 personal interviews of dog owners, and personal reflections of dog-walking experiences the dog owners have. The data showed that owners of dogs do recognize the health benefits that come in hand with dog walking, but their joy in walking with their pet was the main motivator behind walking.
That said, lead author Dr. Carri Westgarth says that it’s unlikely we can figure out factors that motivate dog walking because they are so complex, but they are clearly important as they are highly motivating to human behaviors. She says that the owners said their feelings of happiness were really based on whether they believe their dog is enjoying the walk as much as they are.
When people believe they have dogs who may be ‘lazy’ or is not healthy enough to walk, they don’t seem to have the same enjoyment. Dr. Westgarth says that the key to promotion of walking (for health and social benefits) relies on the motivation dog owners have.
Dr. Westgarth said that the findings show people use dog walking to meet their own need for happiness and fulfillment, and the research shows opportunity for the promotion of dog walking in order to increase health and happiness for people and dogs everywhere.
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