Woeful Walks? Dog Walking Not Associated with Mindfulness or Loneliness in Australians Living Alone During a COVID-19 Lockdown

Lau, Rachel Rou Qian, and Oliva, Jessica Lee (2022) Woeful Walks? Dog Walking Not Associated with Mindfulness or Loneliness in Australians Living Alone During a COVID-19 Lockdown. Anthrozoos. (In Press)

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Abstract

Australian dog owners living alone were less likely to be lonely than non-dog owners living alone during the first COVID-19 government-enforced lockdown. Qualitative insights suggested this might be due to dog owners leaving the house more to walk their dogs. The current study aimed to replicate and extend these findings by exploring whether the relationship between dog-walking frequency and loneliness is mediated by mindfulness. Dog owners in the Australian state of Victoria, who were experiencing a second lockdown, were studied. The research also aimed to compare loneliness between Victorians experiencing a second lockdown and non-Victorians who remained out of lockdown. Comparisons between dog owners, cat owners, and non-owners were also made. Participants were 534 Australians living alone (281 from Victoria and 253 from other Australian states and territories) who completed an online self-report questionnaire. As expected, Victorians under lockdown were significantly lonelier than non-Victorians out of lockdown, with medium effect size, highlighting the second lockdown’s negative impact on mental well-being. For Victorians under lockdown, dog owners demonstrated less loneliness than non-owners, with a small effect. In contrast, for non-Victorians not under lockdown, both dog and cat owners demonstrated less loneliness than non-owners, with a small effect for cats and a small-medium effect for dogs, depending on the measure used. Contrary to expectations, mindfulness in locked-down dog owners did not mediate the relationship between dog-walking frequency and loneliness after adjusting for previous mindfulness experience. However, a significant direct effect of mindfulness on loneliness signified that mindfulness could effectively alleviate loneliness. Findings suggest that mindfulness might protect individuals living alone from loneliness, but dog walking alone may not increase mindfulness nor decrease loneliness. Hence, alternative ways to increase mindfulness during lockdowns should be explored.

Item ID: 75171
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1753-0377
Copyright Information: © 2022 International Society for Anthrozoology (ISAZ)
Date Deposited: 30 Jun 2022 02:11
FoR Codes: 42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4206 Public health > 420606 Social determinants of health @ 50%
52 PSYCHOLOGY > 5205 Social and personality psychology > 520505 Social psychology @ 50%
SEO Codes: 20 HEALTH > 2004 Public health (excl. specific population health) > 200401 Behaviour and health @ 100%
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