Dog ownership has been shown to correlate with physical activity (PA). However, knowledge about the intensities of dog-related PA (drPA) is still lacking. To investigate the duration and intensity of drPA in consideration of PA guidelines, an observational study of dog owners (DO) was conducted.

For this purpose, DO were recruited in metropolitan and nonmetropolitan regions of Cologne, Germany. A total of 44 male and female DO (18–64 years) without cardiovascular or cardiopulmonary diseases participated in the study. Validated questionnaires were used to determine the PA profile and relationship of DO to their dog. Participants reported their drPA in an activity diary. Steps were determined by a pedometer. A heart rate (HR) monitor was used to analyze HR and percentage of maximum HR (HRmax) during all drPA. Overall, drPA makes up a large part of the duration of the overall PA recorded. HR and percentage of HRmax were significantly lower during dog walking (DW) than during other drPA. Nearly 90% of DW time was performed at light or very light intensity. No correlation between objectively measured PA and attachment to the dog was found. Two single case analyses show that other drPA reach high intensity levels and thus can be rated as moderate to vigorous intensity activities. The current investigation demonstrates that DW alone is insufficient to reach PA guidelines. Consequently, other drPA might have more beneficial effects than DW. In future investigations, the role of other types of drPA on PA levels needs to be taken into consideration to improve PA status in healthy populations.