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A framework for understanding how activities associated with dog ownership relate to human well-being

journal contribution
posted on 2020-06-09, 08:54 authored by AM Barcelos, N Kargas, John Maltby, SS Hall, DS Mills

There is notorious inconsistency regarding mental health benefits of dog ownership, partially due to repeated cross-sectional studies comparing dog owners and non-owners, without taking into account the heterogeneity of dog-owner dyads, especially the activities with which the owners are involved. This study aimed to develop a comprehensive framework of the most important dog human related activities and their impact on owner well-being. Six focus groups with 35 dog owners were conducted, and their audio transcripts thematically analysed. Dog human related activities and themes of activities were linked to their reported changes in well-being through matrix coding. A framework of 58 dog human related activities linked with their specific hedonic well-being, life satisfaction and eudaimonic well-being outcomes was generated. Most activities were reported to improve owner’s well-being, (e.g. human-dog tactile interaction increases owner’s self-esteem), and a minority was mainly associated with negative outcomes. The richness of the framework presented in this study reinforces the importance of assessing dog ownership well-being outcomes based on specific dog human related activities with which dog owners are involved. This new and systematic investigative approach should decrease inconsistencies in the field and facilitate mental health interventions and study designs of a higher level of evidence.


This study was funded by the PEARL Activity Grant Scheme 2019-20.



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