Understanding the effects of dog ownership on human health and human physical activity.


This stream of research aims to further knowledge on how dogs influence mental and physical health; and on dog walking as an intervention to increase human physical activity and improve health. PhD and MPhil opportunities within this program include community interventions, large scale epidemiological studies, as well as development of research methods for use in future studies.


Professor Emmanuel Stamatakis

Research Location

Camperdown - Charles Perkins Centre

Program Type



Dog ownership is very popular worldwide, e.g. 40% of Australian households own a dog. There is a popular perception that dogs have a positive effect on human mental and cardiovascular health and help increase physical activity. However, there is very little robust scientific evidence to support such benefits. There are many challenges when doing such studies, mostly because dog ownership is a complex exposure and there are no tailored research methods for this kind of research. A number of PhD and MPhil research projects in these areas are available:
•Trials examining the effect of dog ownership on physical activity, cardiovascular health, mental health, and social interactions.
•Trials examining the potential of wearable pet trackers for increasing dog walking and decreasing sedentary behaviour in humans
•Understanding dog walking as a form of health-enhancing physical activity
•Development and testing of methods for large scale epidemiological research on pet ownership and health
•Development of a long term prospective cohort of pet owners
•Examining the effects of canine assisted therapy interventions in clinical care settings.

There are opportunities for candidate research students to pursue their own research project ideas in the above areas to suit their specific interests and background.

Additional Information

Emmanuel Stamatakis is a Professor of Physical Activity, Lifestyle, and Population Health. He leads a program of research consisting of epidemiological and interventional studies that examine how lifestyles (in particular physical activity, sedentary behaviour, and dog ownership) influence cardiometabolic health, mental wellbeing and mortality risk. The above higher degree research opportunities involve multi-disciplinary supervisory panels and will offer PhD and Masters candidates exposure to a rich study environment at Charles Perkins Centre.

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prevention, epidemiology, exercise, dog ownership, physical activity, mental health, psychosocial health, cardiovascular, lifestyle, Wellbeing

Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is: 2436

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