Background: Positive associations between dog ownership and adult health outcomes have been observed, but research involving youth is lacking. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to assess the relationship of family dog ownership to adolescent physical activity. Methods: Data were collected on dog ownership in 618 adolescent/parent pairs between 9/2006 and 6/2008 and analyzed in 2010. Adolescent physical activity was assessed by ActiGraph accelerometers. Results: Adolescents' mean age was 14.6±1.8 years and 49% were male. White and higher-SES adolescents were more likely to own a dog. In models adjusted for age, puberty, gender, race, total household members, and SES, adolescent physical activity (mean counts·min-1day-1) remained significantly associated with dog ownership (β=24.3, SE=12.4, p=0.05), whereas the association with minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per day became nonsignificant (β=2.2, SE=1.2, p=0.07). No significant results were observed for other adolescent characteristics. Conclusions: Dog ownership was associated with more physical activity among adolescents. Further research using longitudinal data will help clarify the role that dog ownership may have on adolescent physical activity.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors thank the participating families and our funding sources: NCI's Transdisciplinary Research in Energetics & Cancer Initiative (NCI Grant 1 U54 CA116849-01 ), Examining the Obesity Epidemic Through Youth, Family & Young Adults (PI: Robert Jeffery, PhD).