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Dog walkers motivated by happiness, not health

It appears to be a case of ‘do what makes you happy’ for people who regularly walk their dogs.

According to new University of Liverpool research, owners are motivated to go dog walking because it makes them feel happy, not because of other health and social benefits.

In the most in-depth study of dog owner’s perceptions of dog walking to date, 26 interviews were combined with personal written reflections of dog walking experiences.

The researchers found that while owners may say the reason they go walking is to benefit the dog, the importance of their own improved happiness and wellbeing is clear.

These feelings of happiness, however, are contingent on the owner believing that their dog is enjoying the walk too. Anything that threatens this, such as behaviour problems, a perception that they have a ‘lazy’ dog, or their dog is too old, reduces their motivation to walk.

Increased physical activity and social interactions with other dog owners were found to be secondary bonuses but were rarely motivating.