University of Victoria professor Joan Wharf Higgins has been studying the exercise habits of dog owners and their canines in local parks. Her dog

Dedicated dog owners braver in bad weather, UVic researchers find

Dog owners exercising their pooches at Windsor Park last winter may remember seeing a solitary figure with clipboard in hand.

Even when it snowed, either University of Victoria exercise science professor Joan Wharf Higgins or one of two other researchers were out for hours watching pooches and their masters at Windsor and five other parks in the region.

“We wanted to actually observe and see who is out there on a lousy day with their dogs,” Wharf Higgins said.

The researchers observed 3,000 people over two months in the winter and two months in the late spring. In 10-minute scans they made notes of such details as who was in the park, what activities they were engaged in and whether dogs were on or off leash.

What they found was that in crummy winter weather, visits to parks by dogs and their owners actually increased.

While in fair to poor weather non-dog-walking activities in the parks fell by 35 per cent, dog walking increased by six per cent when the weather was really poor. The findings suggest that dog owners likely feel an ethical responsibility for their dogs’ health, the same responsibility that parents feel for their children, Wharf Higgins said.

“Where some go “Oh, I’m not going out today’ [in bad weather], you look at your dog and go ‘OK, we better go.’”

The findings will be published this spring in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health.

The researchers hope to further their work by looking at not-so diligent dog owners. They hope people who walk their dogs less than four times a week will step forward to take part in another study, which will involve wearing a pedometer and GPS watch. “We want to see how much dog walking contributes to their overall activity level,” Wharf Higgins said.

Participants will be offered a $25 honorarium or pet store gift certificate twice during the six-month study.

For more information, call the exercise science, physical and health education department at 250-472-5488.

vmoreau@oakbaynews.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Saanich council to dig into long-awaited garden suite study

Detached suites keep families close, provide financial flexibility, mayor says

Oak Bay council places 60-day protection order on Island Road house

Developer pulled heritage agreement over ‘exorbitant’ $417,000 fees

Protesters showcase massive old yellow cedar as Port Renfrew area forest blockade continues

9.5-foot-wide yellow cedar measured by Ancient Forest Alliance campaigners in Fairy Creek watershed

Firefighters tackle medium-sized grass fire on rural Saanich property

Saanich Fire Department issues warm weather fire safety reminder

Electrical fault results in Saanich hydro pole fire

BC Hydro crews on scene repairing damage well into the early morning hours

VIDEO: Greater Victoria police officers try bhangra dancing with social media star

Gurdeep Pandher leads bhangra lesson on front lawn of the BC Legislature building

Captain Horvat’s OT marker lifts Canucks to 4-3 win over Blues

Vancouver takes 2-0 lead in best-of-7 NHL playoff series with St. Louis

Widow of slain Red Deer doctor thanks community for support ahead of vigil

Fellow doctors, members of the public will gather for a physically-distanced vigil in central Alberta

Taking dog feces and a jackhammer to neighbourhood dispute costs B.C. man $16,000

‘Pellegrin’s actions were motivated by malice …a vindictive, pointless, dangerous and unlawful act’

Racist stickers at Keremeos pub leaves group uneasy and angry

The ‘OK’ hand gesture is a known hate-symbol

VIDEO: World responds to B.C. girl after pandemic cancels birthday party

Dozens of cards and numerous packages were delivered to six-year-old Charlie Manning

Expected fall peak of COVID-19 in Canada could overwhelm health systems: Tam

National modelling projections released Friday show an expected peak in cases this fall

Hundreds of sea lions to be killed on Columbia River in effort to save endangered fish

Nearly 22,000 comments received during public review were opposed, fewer than 200 were for

Most Read