Although researchers have established that companion animals act as social catalysts by promoting interaction between people, they have not examined the possible beneficial effects for well-being arising from the social interactions that occur while dog walking. The present study examined the relations between dog walkers’ social interactions and two components of psychological well-being. A sample of 987 Canadian dog walkers (18-84 years old) completed an online survey. Results of hierarchical regression analyses revealed that dog walkers who conversed with the people they encountered while dog walking were less lonely, but not less stressed, than those who did not converse with the people they encountered. Findings from closed- and open-ended questions provided insight into the positive benefits dog walkers received from their social interactions while dog walking. This study provides preliminary evidence that the social interactions that occur through dog walking are related to aspects of psychological well-being.
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