Does owner personality influence the physical activity and social interactions of their dog(s)?

Kerfoot, S., Zulch, Helen, Pike, Tom and Ellis, Sarah (2013) Does owner personality influence the physical activity and social interactions of their dog(s)? In: 22nd Annual Conference of the International Society for Anthrozoology, 18-19 July 2013, Chicago, USA.

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Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Poster)
Item Status:Live Archive


This study explored whether a dog’s physical activity patterns together with both dog-human and dog-dog social interactions are influenced by the personality of the dog’s owner. Informed by the human personality and exercise literature and using semi-structured interviews, an Internet based questionnaire was designed to provide information regarding seven aspects of a dog’s daily activity profile: frequency and duration of dog walking, number of different routes walked, the number of other people and dogs met whilst out on walks and participation in and number of dog-centred activities involving the owner aside from walking. Respondents (N = 486) also completed the 44 item Big Five personality questionnaire (John and Srivastava, 1999). General or generalised linear models were conducted for each of the dependent variables, to compare their relation with each of the five personality variables, owner age, and whether the owner was with their dog during work hours. Dogs whose owners had a high agreeableness score met a greater number of other people on walks (Waldχ21=4.44, p=0.035), whereas those with a high conscientiousness score met fewer people (Wald χ21=6.14, p=0.013). Other significant personality effects involved interactions between two personality traits. For example, dogs of owners with low neuroticism and extraversion scores met a significantly higher number of other dogs/week whilst out on walks (Waldχ21=11.48, p=0.001). Similarly, dogs whose owners scored high on conscientiousness and low on extraversion were walked more frequently (F1,182=11.65, p=0.001). Personality was unrelated to duration of walking and both measures of other dog-centred activities involving owners. Dogs whose owners were present during working hours were walked for significantly longer (F1,185=6.89, p=0.009), on more different routes (F1,184=6.01, p=0.015) and met a greater number of other dogs (Waldχ21=7.97, p=0.002). Further investigation of owner personality and the value of dogs accompanying their owners during their working hours offer potential for improved understanding of this important aspect of the human-canine relationship.

Keywords:personality, human-animal interactions, dog ownership
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C800 Psychology
C Biological Sciences > C810 Applied Psychology
D Veterinary Sciences, Agriculture and related subjects > D328 Animal Welfare
Divisions:College of Science > School of Life Sciences
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ID Code:11587
Deposited On:02 Aug 2013 14:44

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