Understanding the Relationship Between Dog Ownership and Children’s Physical Activity and Sedentary Behavior

  • Hayley ChristianEmail author
  • Carri Westgarth
  • Danny Della Vedova
Part of the Educating the Young Child book series (EDYC, volume 14)


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.


Dog Physical activity Active play Dog walking Dog ownership Independent mobility Overweight Obesity Sedentary behaviour Social-ecological Family Intervention Environment Children 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hayley Christian
    • 1
    Email author
  • Carri Westgarth
    • 2
  • Danny Della Vedova
    • 1
  1. 1.The University of Western AustraliaCrawleyAustralia
  2. 2.University of LiverpoolLiverpoolUK

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