The Interplay Between Affect, Dog's Physical Activity and Dog–Owner Relationship

Heli Väätäjä, Päivi Majaranta, Anna Valldeoriola Cardó, Poika Isokoski, Sanni Somppi, Antti Vehkaoja, Outi Vainio, Veikko Surakka

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Leaving a dog home alone is part of everyday life for most dog owners. Previous research shows that dog–owner relationship has multifarious effects on dog behavior. However, little is known about the interplay between dog–owner relationship, physical activity of the dog, and affective experiences at the time of the owner leaving home and reunion when the owner comes home. In this paper, we explored how the general (daily, home alone, and over the 2-week study period) physical activity of the dog, and owner's perceptions of the dog's affective state were correlated at those particular moments. Nineteen volunteer dog owners had their dogs (N = 19) wear two activity trackers (ActiGraph wGT2X-GT and FitBark2) for 2 weeks 24 h/day. Prior to the 2-week continuous physical activity measurement period, the owners filled in questionnaires about the dog–owner relationship and the dog behavior. In daily questionnaires, owners described and assessed their own and their perception of the emotion-related experiences of their dog and behavior of the dog at the moment of separation and reunion. The results indicated that the dog–owner relationship has an interplay with the mean daily and weekly physical activity levels of the dog. An indication of strong emotional dog–owner relationship (especially related to the attentiveness of the dog, continuous companionship, and time spent together when relaxing) correlated positively with the mean daily activity levels of the dog during the first measurement week of the study. Results also suggest that the mean daily and over the 2-week measurement period physical activity of the dog correlated the affective experiences of the dog and owner as reported by the owner when the dog was left home alone. More research is needed to understand the interplay between affect, physical activity of the dog, dog–owner relationship, and the effects of these factors on, and their interplay with, the welfare of dogs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number673407
JournalFrontiers in Veterinary Science
Publication statusPublished - 9 Dec 2021
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • activity tracker
  • affect
  • canine
  • dog
  • dog-owner relationship
  • emotion
  • physical activity
  • welfare

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • veterinary(all)


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