Dog ownership, dog walking, and social capital

Mohammad Javad Koohsari*, Akitomo Yasunaga, Ai Shibata, Kaori Ishii, Rina Miyawaki, Kuniko Araki, Tomoki Nakaya, Tomoya Hanibuchi, Gavin R. McCormack, Koichiro Oka

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Evidence for social pathways to health benefits for dog owners appears positive but less well-developed. Our study aimed to estimate the differences in social capital by dog ownership and dog walking status among young-to-middle-aged adults and older adults in Japan. Data from 3606 residents living in Japan were used. Data on social capital, dog ownership, and dog walking were collected by questionnaires. Age-stratified multivariable linear regression models were used to estimate differences in social capital scores by dog ownership and dog walking status. Among young-to-middle-aged adults, the mean of the activities with neighbours score, adjusted for covariates, was significantly higher (p < 0.05) for the dog owner walkers group compared to the non-dog owners group. Among older adults, no significant differences in the marginal means of social capital scores were observed between the three groups of non-dog owners, dog owner non-walkers, and dog owner walkers. While the benefits of social capital for a healthy lifestyle have been well-documented, few means have been identified to intervene in social capital. Building on and expanding the known health benefits of dog ownership and dog walking, this study revealed modest support for the link between dog walking and activities with neighbours among young-to-middle-aged adults, but no meaningful associations were found for older adults. Additionally, no significant link was observed between dog walking and social cohesion among either age group. Future research can further improve the use of dog-based behavioural health interventions for fostering social capital.

Original languageEnglish
Article number126
JournalHumanities and Social Sciences Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Dec

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
  • Arts and Humanities(all)
  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Psychology(all)
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance(all)


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