University of Tasmania

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Not just 'a walking the dog': dog walking and pet play and their association with recommended physical activity among adolescents

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-21, 13:54 authored by Karen Martin, Wood, L, Christian, H, Trapp, GSA

Purpose: To examine the role of pet play and dog walking in children's and adolescents' leisure time, and the relationship between these activities and physical activity.

Design: The study design was observational.

Setting: The study setting was metropolitan Perth and nonmetropolitan regions in Western Australia.

Subjects: The study included 1097 primary school (mean age, 10.1 years; SD, 1.6 years) and 657 secondary school (mean age, 14.0 years; SD, 1.3 years) students.

Measures: Validated measures of total physical activity, dog walking, and pet play activity (prevalence and time) were calculated.

Analysis: Generalized linear models tested for differences between proportions, while adjusting for socioeconomic status, age, and school-level clustering.

Results: Approximately one third of primary school and one quarter of secondary school students reported that they walked the dog at least once in the last week. Pet play was the most common play activity for primary and secondary school girls, and the second and third most popular play activity for secondary and primary school boys, respectively. Secondary school students who walked the dog or played with pets spent an average of 1 hour per week on each activity, and they were significantly more likely (p < .005) to meet national physical activity recommendations than secondary school students not reporting these activities.

Conclusion: Given the significant proportion of young people who frequently engage in dog walking and pet play, and the high level of pet ownership in many Western countries, promotion of these activities to support young people's health is warranted.


Publication title

Observational Studies










Faculty of Education


University of Pennsylvania Press

Place of publication

United States

Rights statement

Copyright 2015 by American Journal of Health Promotion,

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Mental health services; Adolescent health