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Dog owner mental health is associated with dog behavioural problems, dog care and dog-facilitated social interaction: a prospective cohort study

Barcelos, Ana Maria; Kargas, Niko; Assheton, Phil; Maltby, John; Hall, Sophie; Mills, Daniel S.

Dog owner mental health is associated with dog behavioural problems, dog care and dog-facilitated social interaction: a prospective cohort study Thumbnail


Authors

Ana Maria Barcelos

Niko Kargas

Phil Assheton

John Maltby

SOPHIE HALL Sophie.Hall@nottingham.ac.uk
Clinical Trial Manager

Daniel S. Mills



Abstract

Despite numerous qualitative and cross-sectional studies investigating how dog-related factors may impact owners’ well-being, empirical studies to test these causal effects are lacking. This prospective cohort study examined the correlation and potential causal effect of 17 dog-related factors with six well-being outcomes (depression, anxiety, loneliness, suicidal ideation, hedonic well-being and eudaimonic well-being) in dog owners. Over a four-week period, 709 adult dog owners reported their weekly well-being and occurrence of each dog-related factor (e.g. how many times they ran with their dogs). A random intercept cross-lagged panel model (RI-CLPM) with significance threshold set at 0.001 was used. Six factors correlated with poorer owner well-being (i.e. aggressive dog behaviour, fearful dog behaviour, poor dog health, failure to provide for the dog, lack of control over the dog, and dog presence). Only ‘friendly conversation with others due to the dog’ correlated with better well-being. Purposeful reductions in the frequency of dog behavioural and health-related issues are likely to improve owner well-being, as well as greater consistency in dog care (i.e. provide for the dog) and more engagement in friendly dog-facilitated social interactions. No potential causal effects were significant. Further studies investigating causal relationships are essential to improve people’s well-being through dog ownership.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 29, 2023
Online Publication Date Dec 8, 2023
Publication Date Dec 8, 2023
Deposit Date Dec 11, 2023
Publicly Available Date Dec 11, 2023
Journal Scientific Reports
Electronic ISSN 2045-2322
Publisher Nature Publishing Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 13
Issue 1
Article Number 21734
DOI https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-023-48731-z
Keywords Animal behaviour; Anxiety; Depression; Psychology; Psychology and behaviour; Quality of life
Public URL https://nottingham-repository.worktribe.com/output/28416563
Publisher URL https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-023-48731-z
Additional Information Received: 16 March 2023; Accepted: 29 November 2023; First Online: 8 December 2023; : The authors declare no competing interests.