Diamond Dogs: A Pilot Dog-Walking Trial with Overweight College Students and Dog Shelters in the Inner-City | HABRI

Principal Investigator

Eunice Chen, PhD (Temple University)


Only a third of college students engage in recommended amounts of physical activity and weight doubles between the early 20s and late 20-30s. Young adults tend to achieve less weight loss and show higher attrition rates than older adults in weight-loss programs. Targeting physical activity relative to diet is more effective in young adults. Physical activity interventions improve multiple outcomes in children and adolescents but more randomized controlled trials are needed, particularly in college aged students.There is prepost evidence in overweight individuals that walking shelter dogs can result in weight loss.


The researchers’ aim is to assess the preliminary acceptability, feasibility and efficacy of a Shelter dog-walking intervention with college students.


During the study, the Shelterdog intervention relative to the pedometer-only control will have greater improvements in:

Hypothesis 1: moderate and vigorous steps walked/week and less sedentary hours/week; and

Hypothesis 2: health and fitness, neurocognitive, and quality of life and mood outcomes, and result in

Hypothesis 3: greater acceptability ratings and will be more likely to promote pet adoption.


Pilot randomized controlled trial with 6-months follow-up comparing a 3-month Shelter dog-walking program with a pedometer control walking program in 40 overweight college students. The primary outcome is steps walked/week (classified as moderate or vigorous) and sedentary hours/week as assessed by a human wearable device.

Expected Results

Researchers expect to show preliminary acceptability and feasibility of the Shelter dog-walking intervention. The Shelter dog-walking program relative to a pedometer-only control will result in greater improvements in: moderate and vigorous steps walked/week and less sedentary hours/week, health and fitness, neurocognitive, and quality of life and mood outcomes. Shelter dog-walking subjects will report their intervention as more acceptable and be more likely to adopt a pet than those in the control. Researchers expect strong recruitment and retention of subjects and data.