Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Kinesiology (MKin)


Kinesiology and Physical Education


Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Dr. Jennifer Robertson-Wilson

Advisor Role


Second Advisor

Dr. Mark Eys

Advisor Role

Thesis Advisory Committee member

Third Advisor

Dr. Paula Fletcher

Advisor Role

Thesis Advisory Committee member


The physical and mental health benefits of regular physical activity have been well-documented (e.g., Reiner et al., 2013; White et al., 2017). Additionally, owning a dog is associated with positive health outcomes as owners are encouraged to walk. Dogs are also a source of comfort during stressful times for those in their presence (e.g., Brown & Rhodes, 2006; Westgarth et al., 2017). The aim of this study was to examine the relationship between dog ownership, physical activity, and mental health among the university student population. Over 500 university students completed questionnaires assessing their demographic information, mental health, dog ownership status, living situation, social support (Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support-original; Zimet et al., 1988), stress (Perceived Stress Scale; Cohen et al., 1983), loneliness (ULCA Loneliness Scale; Russell et al., 1980), physical activity (International Physical Activity Questionnaire-Short Form; Craig et al., 2003) and, if applicable, dog demographics, pet attachment (Pet Attachment Questionnaire; Zilcha-Mano et al., 2011a), and pet social support (Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support-revised; Meehan et al., 2017) at a single timepoint. The participants were categorized as a dog owner (currently owns and lives with a dog), dog separated (has recently been separated from their dog who is currently living in a different residence), and a non-dog owner (does not currently own a dog at any residence). Chi-square analyses, ANOVA, and MANOVA were conducted. The main findings suggested no significant differences between groups on physical activity and stress, but showed that dog separated students were significantly less lonely than non-dog owners and dog owners. These results provide knowledge about student mental health and physical activity but suggest additional research is required to understand how dogs may play a role in this complex, transitional life stage.

Convocation Year


Available for download on Sunday, February 18, 2024

Included in

Kinesiology Commons