Want to make new friends? Walk your dog

Want to make new friends? Walk your dog

Dog-walking is one of the best ways to meet new people, researchers have found.

Scientists at The University of Western Australia surveyed 2,700 adults in Perth and three US cities about the role pets play in improving social relationships and connecting communities.

"We found that more pet owners than non-pet owners got to know new people since moving to their current neighbourhood," said lead author and UWA's associate professor Lisa Wood.

"And of the pet owners who had got to know people in their neighbourhood because of their pet, more than half considered one or more of the people they met to be friends," Wood said.

The research also looked more specifically at the benefits of dog-walking, which included an increase in physical activity and an improvement in people's perceptions of neighbourhood safety.

"The findings provide further evidence of the personal and collective benefits of dog-walking," said UWA's assistant professor Hayley Christian, one of the study co-authors.

Not only can dog-walking be an important strategy for increasing people's physical activity - with 30 minutes per day of brisk walking being the commonly accepted guideline for good health - but people who walked their dog also had a stronger sense of community and a more positive perception of how safe their neighbourhood was for walking, Christian said.

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