Newly Published Study Shows Young Children with Pet Dogs Benefit from Greater Physical Activity and Reduced Screen Time | HABRI

Newly Published Study Shows Young Children with Pet Dogs Benefit from Greater Physical Activity and Reduced Screen Time

HABRI-Funded Research Highlights the Health Benefits of Family Dog Ownership for Children Ages 2 – 5

Washington, D.C. (March 29, 2022) — The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) has hailed the results of a HABRI-funded study led by researchers at the Telethon Kids Institute and The University of Western Australia (UWA) that found dog ownership to be positively associated with physical activity in preschool-aged children. The study was just published in the journal Preventive Medicine Reports.

“Our research found that engaging with the family dog through playing and going on family walks was positively associated with young children’s physical activity, sleep, and negatively associated with screen time,” said Telethon Kids and UWA Associate Professor Hayley Christian, who was Principal Investigator on the study. “With many young children not meeting the recommended levels of physical activity, screen time and sleep, we hope these results will help parents, children and pets be more active and healthy.”

“With these new research findings, we have solid evidence that pet dogs can benefit physical health in young children,” said Steven Feldman, President of HABRI. “HABRI looks forward to sharing these results and encouraging families to spend more quality time playing with and walking their dogs.”

The research team, led by Dr. Christian, analyzed data from 1,336 children aged 2-5 years in the ‘Play Spaces and Environments for Children’s Physical Activity’ (PLAYCE) study, an observational study investigating the influence of the childcare environment on young children’s physical activity. Parent-report surveys collected information about socio-demographic characteristics, family dog ownership, physical activity, outdoor play, family dog walking and play, screen time and sleep. Preschoolers wore ActiGraph accelerometers to measure physical activity.

Findings indicate that dog-owning preschoolers did eight more sessions per week of unstructured physical activity than those from non-dog households. Dog-owning

preschoolers who played with their dog three or more times per week did more structured and unstructured physical activity, outdoor play, and had 16 minutes more sleep per day. Family dog walking three or more times per week was positively associated with structured and unstructured physical activity and outdoor play, and negatively associated with screen time.

This research is part of a larger HABRI-funded study conducted by Dr. Christian and her team. Findings from Objective 1 were previously published in July 2020, which showed that dog-owning children had better socio-emotional outcomes compared to non-dog-owners. As part of Objective 2 of this study, the researchers conducted a pilot study which sought to evaluate a minimal intervention for improving children’s health and developmental outcomes through increasing active play and walking with the family dog.

Citation: Christian, Hayley E., et al. “Association between preschooler movement behaviours, family dog ownership, dog play and dog walking: Findings from the PLAYCE study.” Preventive Medicine Reports (2022): 101753. https://dx.doi.org/10.1016%2Fj.pmedr.2022.101753

About HABRI

HABRI is a not-for-profit organization that maintains the world’s largest online library of human-animal bond research and information; funds innovative research projects to scientifically document the health benefits of companion animals; and informs the public about human-animal bond research and the beneficial role of companion animals in society. For more information, please visit http://www.habri.org.

Contact

Hayley Maynard

Hayley@inspireprgroup.com

614.701.8205

###

Press Releases
Virtual Pet Week on Capitol Hill Celebrates Pets during Pandemic

The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) virtually delivered the message that pets are good for our health and wellbeing through Pet Week on Capitol Hill. Pet Week featured conversations with pet care leaders and members of Congress about the importance of pet ownership in America and the scientific evidence that shows how pets and people are good for each other. “HABRI is proud to host Pet Night on Capitol Hill, but since we couldn’t be together in person, we decided to build a virtual Pet Week on Capitol Hill,” said Steven Feldman, HABRI’s Executive Director. “The entire pet care community came together to share the power of pets with Congress, and we ended up with even greater participation, which shows how the human-animal bond has grown even stronger during the pandemic.” Pet Week highlighted timely issues including the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on pet adoption in America and the importance of passing lifesaving pet-related legislation aimed at improving the lives of veterans with PTSD and survivors of domestic violence. Congressman Kurt Schrader (OR-5) discussed the importance of One Health Act legislation aimed at helping protect people and pets from zoonotic diseases, and the key role of veterinary medicine in preventing future pandemics. Thousands of participants experienced the human-animal bond from afar, with virtual visits from Pet Partners therapy animals and adoptable pets from the Humane Rescue Alliance. Pet Week also featured a special guest appearance from baseball Hall-of-Famer Tony La Russa, who spoke on the lifesaving impact of service dogs for veterans with post-traumatic stress. For Pet Week’s closing celebration, the Animal Health Institute crowned the winners of the Cutest Pets on Capitol Hill contest, recognizing the most adorable congressional companions from both sides of the aisle. Dog: Sergeant Pepper Owner: Syd Terry Office of Rep. Jan Schakowsky (IL-9) Cat: Jackson Owner: Liz Leibowitz Office of Senator Cardin...

Press Releases
When Doctors Ask About Pets, Good Things Happen

The Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) today announced it has awarded a $55,000 grant to Markham Stouffville Hospital for a groundbreaking research study, Using the Pet Query to Assess Patients’ Environmental History and Social Context, to explore how questions about pet ownership can help healthcare professionals better serve their patients. “If primary care practitioners – physicians, nurse practitioners, and social workers – just ask patients about pets in their families, a whole new world of patient care is open to them,” said Dr. Kate Hodgson, co-investigator of the study, veterinarian and Certified Continuing Medical Education Professional. “Pets can build social capital, motivate healthy behavior change, catalyze harm reduction, and even participate in a patient’s treatment plan.” It is expected that by utilizing the Pet Query, (Do you live with companion animals? How many? What species?) patients will be more open about their environmental history and habits, allowing healthcare providers to better assess and address their patients’ health. Pets can then become powerful catalysts and motivators for patients’ healthy choices and behaviors. In addition to enabling primary care providers to leverage the health benefits of companion animals, asking about pets in the family assists in identifying and mitigating any associated risk. “This grant to Markham Stouffville Hospital is an important stepping-stone in HABRI’s mission of investigating and sharing the healing power of companion animals,” said Steve Feldman, Executive Director of HABRI. “We know 97% of doctors already believe in the health benefits of pets. This research will give them practical tools to act on this belief.” The 12-month study will survey 150-200 healthcare professionals ranging from family physicians to social workers on how specific behaviors relate to pet ownership and how to integrate that information into healthcare practices.

Press Releases
Pet Week on Capitol Hill Goes Virtual

Hosted by the Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI), Pet Week on Capitol Hill will bring the power of pets to Capitol Hill, delivering the message to elected representatives that pets are important for human health and wellbeing, especially during these unprecedented times. In an effort to safeguard the health and safety of all, Pet Night on Capitol Hill, the popular, in-person annual reception has been converted to a series of virtual conversations to be held September 8-10, 2020.    “Pets have become even more important during the coronavirus pandemic,” said Steven Feldman, Executive Director of HABRI. “Pet Week on Capitol Hill will feature conversations with Members of Congress and pet care leaders about the importance of pet ownership in America.”  In addition to a wealth of information about pets and related policies and legislation that will strengthen the human-animal bond, Pet Week will still include the much-anticipated Cutest Pets on Capitol competition! Pet Week on Capitol Hill is a free event, with all programming streaming from www.PetNight.com.   The full schedule is listed below:  Tuesday, September 8, 2020  4:00 PM EDT  Pet Nation: The Importance of Pets in America  Mark Cushing Author, Pet Nation  Steven Feldman Executive Director, HABRI    Wednesday, September 9, 2020  12 PM EDT  Lifesaving Pet-Related Legislation: A Discussion Of Important Initiatives That Will Help Keep Pets And People Safe, Healthy And Happy Together  Dr. Kurt Venator, DVM, PhD, Chief Veterinary Officer, Nestlé Purina PetCare (and his puppy Emmie)  Nicole Forsyth, President & CEO, RedRover  Nicole Lanahan, Executive Director, Got Your Six Support Dogs  4:00 PM EDT  One Health Act: The Role of Veterinary Medicine in Preventing Future Pandemics  Representative Kurt Schrader (OR-5)    Thursday, September 10, 2020  12 PM EDT  Pet Ownership and Pet Industry Economics in the Post-COVID...

HABRI