Don’t Underestimate the Lassie Effect

Don’t Underestimate the Lassie Effect

Shane M.

There are about 78 million dogs in the US right now with owners who, if they wanted, could probably head out for a run right now.

This is called the Lassie Effect, and what that means is that your pup probably wouldn’t mind a walk around the neighborhood or a raucous game of fetch at the park, and you can get a little extra exercise from having fun with your furry friend. Or, maybe even tons of exercise.

Some studies show that a dog owner who is an attentive walker gets much more exercise than their cat-owning neighbors (no offense). And dog walker is actually a notably healthy job.

And yet many of those 78 million dogs — up to 40% — are not getting the kind of walk/play time they would prefer from owners who in turn aren’t getting the kind of exercise they need. Why not?

Australian researchers got to the bottom of this with a look at the health of hundreds of dog owners. And what they found were a few reasons why people may not be walking their pets:

  1. Smaller dogs are (wrongly considered) less needy when it comes to runs.
  2. No parks nearby.
  3. Older dogs were left to sleep on the floor
  4. Fatter dogs were left to just eat their lives away.
  5. Dogs who live in a house with kids get walked more often, but not by the parents who would benefit more from it.
  6. People liked their dogs, but didn’t love their dogs.

So there is nothing earth-shattering in this, but it does highlight that there are plenty of excuses why neither you nor Fido are getting enough exercise. So if there is a wet nose touching your foot right now, maybe it’s time to turn away from your screen and pull out the frisbee. Or at least a leash.

And, while we don’t really advocate using your dog as a piece of workout gear, we did make a short video showing how Mark might sometimes warm up with Jenny. It should be noted that Jenny is friendly. Most dogs don’t like being picked up and used as gear.