Children who have a pet dog are more active and do almost 2.5 hours more exercise a week than those without a dog, according to University of WA research.
The study of 1218 Perth children found that those with dogs were almost 50 per cent more likely to achieve the recommended seven hours of physical activity a week than children without dogs.
They also did an average of 142 minutes more physical activity a week, including 29 minutes more walking.
Study author UWA Assistant Professor Hayley Christian said physical activity levels in children had fallen over time and encouraging children to play with their dogs was a great way for parents to get kids outside.
Between 50 and 70 per cent of Australian households with children have a dog but almost 50 per cent of adults who own dogs do not walk them. Assistant Professor Christian said the research focused on children aged between 10 and 12. She said dogs allowed them to be more independent and walk around the neighbourhood without their parents.
Anita Duncan said her five-year-old daughter Mawit liked to go for a walk with their Staffordshire bull terrier Sallie and West Highland white terrier Dougal.She said because the dogs needed to get out, it forced them to go to the park more often than they otherwise might.