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Barriers and facilitators to dog walking in New England

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Dog walking may increase physical activity among dogs and their owners. Understanding barriers and facilitators to walking the dog is critical to developing interventions to increase dog walking. This study aimed to confirm previously identified barriers and facilitators of dog walking, and to identify unique factors that may be relevant to dog walking in cities with variable weather. This mixed methods study used focus groups to identify barriers and facilitators associated with dog walking and a survey to examine which factors were associated with dog walking. Focus group participants described barriers, such as lack of time, weather, lack of places to walk and the dog's bad behaviour. Facilitators included enjoyment, dog walking norms (defined as the participant's perception of how much the veterinarian, other dog owners, and their family think they should walk the dog), and socialisation opportunities. A hierarchical regression analysis of survey data revealed that the participant's perception of dog walking norms was associated with increased frequency and duration of dog walking, while weather, work and family commitment barriers were associated with a reduced frequency and duration of dog walking. Family, community and veterinarian dog walking norms, inclement weather, and lack of time due to work obligations emerged as important correlates of dog walking. Interventions that aim to increase physical activity by encouraging dog walking may benefit from incorporating strategies that address facilitators (family support) and barriers (time and weather) to walking the dog.
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Keywords: exercise; mixed methods; physical activity

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2015

More about this publication?
  • 'Comparative Exercise Physiology' is the only international peer-reviewed scientific journal specifically dealing with the latest research in exercise physiology across all animal species, including humans. The major objective of the journal is to use this comparative approach to better understand the physiological, nutritional, and biochemical parameters that determine levels of performance and athletic achievement. Core subjects include exercise physiology, biomechanics, gait (including the effect of riders in equestrian sport), nutrition and biochemistry, injury and rehabilitation, psychology and behaviour, and breeding and genetics. This comparative and integrative approach to exercise science ultimately highlights the similarities as well as the differences between humans, horses, dogs, and other athletic or non-athletic species during exercise. The result is a unique forum for new information that serves as a resource for all who want to understand the physiological challenges with exercise.
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