Understanding the relationship between dog ownership and children's physical activity and sedentary behavior

Hayley Christian, Carri Westgarth, Daniel Della Vedova

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperChapterpeer-review


Alarming levels of overweight and obesity in children and the protective role of physical activity for children’s health highlights the need for applied, child-friendly and cost-effective physical activity intervention strategies. There is strong empirical evidence that dog ownership and dog walking is associated with increased physical activity in adults. There is emerging evidence of similar physical activity benefits for children who have a dog. Given over half of all households with children have a dog, dog-facilitated physical activity may be an effective way to increase physical activity, reduce sedentary behavior and decrease child obesity levels. In this chapter we will provide an overview of the evidence of the relationship between dog ownership, dog walking and physical activity, sedentary behavior and obesity in children and adolescents. We will highlight differences in the nature of these relationships for boys and girls and describe the mechanisms through which dog-child interactions can facilitate increased physical activity. Finally, we will outline how the promotion of walking and active play with a dog may be a strategy to increase children’s physical activity, reduce sedentary time and curb obesity.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPhysical Activity and Health Promotion in the Early Years: Effective Strategies for Early Childhood Educators
ISBN (Electronic)9783319760063
ISBN (Print)9783319760049
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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