Sydney School of Public wants to know if dogs make people happier

The effect of dog ownership on adult human health is the focus of a new pilot study by the University of Sydney.

Sydney School of Public wants to know if dogs make people happier
Do dogs make people feel happy?

Led by Associate Professor Emmanuel Stamatakis from the Charles Perkins Centre and Sydney School of Public Health, the research team is seeking 100 non-dog owners to participate in the trial—people who are considering owning a dog as well as those who have no interest in doing so.

“Dog ownership is very popular in Australia with over 40 percent of households owning at least one dog,” Associate Professor Stamatakis said. “While anecdotal evidence suggests dog ownership is beneficial for human health, there is currently scant scientific evidence to back up this perception.

"Our research will provide valuable insight into the health benefits of dog ownership which could support programs promoting and enabling dog ownership as a means to increase physical activity, improve general health and prevent cardiovascular and mental illness."

Differences in physical activity, cardiovascular and metabolic health, and psychosocial well-being will be assessed for three groups: participants who acquire a dog within one month, after an eight-month waiting period, or do not adopt at all.

Over the course of eight months, participants in the Physical & Affective Wellbeing Study of dog owners (PAWS) pilot will be asked to complete a small number of questionnaires over the phone and visit the Charles Perkins Centre or be visited at home three times for some simple physical measurements. "These initial results will also inform the methods of a much larger trial, the first controlled trial to examine the health effect of 'real world' dog ownership," Associate Professor Stamatakis explained.

What is public health?

Public health is society's response to threats to the collective health of its citizens. Public health practitioners work to enhance and protect the health of populations by identifying their health problems and needs, and providing programs and services to address these needs. Studying in this field as an international student gives Canadians an understanding of the public health realm on an international scale, making Australia a top choice for Canadians. At the Sydney School of Public Health, the Master of Public Health program is open to students from health and non-health backgrounds. Public health is
  • preventing disease;
  • promoting health; and
  • prolonging life.
Program: Master of Public Health
Location: Sydney, New South Wales
Semester intakes: March and July
Duration: 1 year
Application deadline: Candidates are encouraged to apply a minimum of three months prior to the program’s start date.
Entry Requirements: A successful applicant for admission to the program requires
  • a minimum four-year full time degree or equivalent qualification from the University of Sydney or an equivalent qualification; or
  • a shorter degree from the University of Sydney or an equivalent qualification, and non-degree professional qualifications and/or substantial relevant experience and/or other relevant qualifications.

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