Publication Date



Funding for this research was provided by the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation.


Many families are now acquiring pets to encourage children, to spend more time in the ‘real’, rather than the ‘virtual’ world. The rising prevalence in the number of children who are overweight or obese is increasing in importance as a public health issue in Australia (McCallum & Gerner, 2005). Walking and physical activity is strongly linked to improved general health and lower risks of obesity and associated health problems. A growing body of research shows that pet ownership has a number of physical health benefits. Studies now associate pets, and particularly dogs with increased levels of physical activity.