What Do Dogs Have to Do with Great Neighbourhoods?
You don’t need to have a dog to reap the rewards of dog ownership.
illustration by tyler lemermeyer
Dog ownership in Canada has been on the rise.
According to the Canadian Animal Health Institute, 41 per cent of Canadian households include at least one dog and that number has grown consistently over the last 10 years — and for good reason. A study published in BMC Public Health journal found that dog owners walked an average of 22 minutes and 2,760 steps more per day than those without dogs. And a study in Scientific Reports found dog owners live longer and healthier lives.
But even if you don’t own one, you can benefit from having dogs in your neighbourhood. Dog owners need parks and walkable pathways. Anyone who owns a dog knows how having your pooch with you makes it easy to start conversations with strangers. These factors mean dogs in your neighbourhood can help you meet people and create a sense of community. This is why Avenue included the percentage of dog owners in a community in the calculations of neighbourhood engagement scores.
“Furry friends bring so many positive social impacts to our neighbourhoods,” says Calgary Ward 7 councillor Druh Farrell. “Dogs bring neighbours together who otherwise might not have a chance to meet. They help combat loneliness and keep us fit. As we find ourselves in an age of increasing isolation, our pups can bring us companionship and a happier state of mind.”
Melanie Rock, an associate professor at the University of Calgary, researches how pets integrate into our society and lives. She says while it’s unclear whether people choose to live in certain neighbourhoods because of their dogs, or choose to have a dog because of where they live, a relationship exists between neighbourhood characteristics and dog ownership. “That means being able to walk in neighbourhoods, parks, and so on,” Rock says.
This relationship is evident in Calgary. Last year, McKenzie Towne, Cranston and Tuscany were the three neighbourhoods with the highest number of licensed dogs. Cranston and Tuscany are also amongst the communities with the best access to pathways. All three communities have higher-than-average access to greenspace and all ranked in the top third of Calgary neighbourhoods in our analysis.
Greenwood/Greenbriar has the highest number of dogs per dwelling in Calgary: 0.5585.
Tuscany is home to 2,512 dogs and 914 cats.
Huntington Hills, Beddington Heights and Silver Springs each have five off-leash parks.
Calgary is home to 150 public off-leash areas — a total of more than 1,250 hectares that make up 17 per cent of the City’s total Parks space.