The use of a treasure hunt to increase physical activity in owners and dogs (Canis familiaris) within a UK dog park

Macfarlane, A., Zulch, Helen and Ellis, Sarah (2013) The use of a treasure hunt to increase physical activity in owners and dogs (Canis familiaris) within a UK dog park. 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


As increasing demand for public space restricts dog walking access, designated dog walking areas (dog parks) are growing. However, common features including limited size and multiple seating areas create environments that do little to promote walking. The current study investigated the impact of a socially driven treasure hunt on the physical activity of owners and their dogs at an off-lead U.K. dog park.

Thirteen existing dog park users (29 – 71 years, 11 female 2 male) and their dogs (1 – 6 years, 4 female 9 male) undertook a two-week intervention involving searching for a key to open a rewarded box. Each participant was invited to replace the reward and re-hide the key within the park, thus attempting to encourage walking and space use. Number of owner steps were recorded utilizing the pedometer ‘Yamax Digi-walker SW200’ while distance travelled, time spent moving, and percentage of the park space covered by the dog were recorded using a ‘Dorr GPS route logger’ at each park visit (allocated time 30 minutes) during the intervention (B), 2 weeks preceding (A1) and 2 weeks post-intervention (A2). Following each condition, owner levels of enjoyment, perceptions of their dog’s enjoyment & levels of interaction between owner & dog were obtained via self-report questionnaire.

Significantly fewer steps were taken by participants during A2 in comparison to both A1 (One-Way ANOVA, post-hoc comparison p = 0.039) and B (One-way ANOVA, post hoc comparison p = 0.014) and their park enjoyment was significantly greater in this condition compared to B (Wilcoxon signed rank, p = 0.004). There were no significant main effects of condition on any of the three dog related outcome measures (One-way ANOVA tests, p>0.05).

These findings suggest that a treasure hunt is an unsuccessful intervention in terms of promoting physical activity in owners and their dogs and providing enjoyment to owners.

Keywords:animal health, animal welfare, dog ownership, human-animal interactions
Subjects:D Veterinary Sciences, Agriculture and related subjects > D320 Animal Health
D Veterinary Sciences, Agriculture and related subjects > D328 Animal Welfare
Divisions:College of Science > School of Life Sciences
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ID Code:11588
Deposited On:02 Aug 2013 14:47

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