The University of Virginia just released a study which showed that teenagers with dogs get about 15 more minutes a week of moderate to vigorous physical activity than teens who don’t have any pets.
The finding was unexpected because the researchers had anticipated the dog-walking responsibilities would be taken by the parents. “We hypothesized it would have an effect on adults, but we didn’t see that. We saw it in the kids,” study researcher John Sirard, an assistant professor at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, said.
Despite the link between dog ownership and teenagers’ physical activity, researchers said they could not be certain that getting a dog would encourage people to be more active. It could be that more active people choose to have dogs, because the pet already fits their lifestyle, Sirard said.
As a dog owner very interested in both exercising and dog ownership, I have some thoughts on the subject.
First of all, I came to dog ownership almost by accident. I hadn’t owned a dog nor wanted one since I was a child. My ex-wife got a puppy for my daughter and they had a lot of problems dealing with it. Every time I spoke with them on the phone I heard a new horror story about what Gabi had chewed up now. When I heard that the pup had chewed on furniture, I realized she was not long for their world. I knew my ex was going to get rid of it some day when my daughter was at school and that would be that.
I didn’t want my daughter to lose her puppy, so I offered to take the dog on weekends in ‘split custody.’ That way my ex could have several days of relief and things should get smoother. After several weeks, however, I realized that they didn’t know how to handle the dog and she was unhappy being with them, so I kept her at my place, but said she was my daughter’s dog who lived with me.