Young children who grow up in dog-owning households are more likely to have greater social and emotional health than their peers who do not, a new study claims.
A recent report from the University of Western Australia and Telethon Kids Institute polled 1,646 parents of children between the ages of 2 and 5, with the findings arguably making the case for adding a four-legged friend to the family. The results were published in the journal Pediatric Research on Tuesday, and disclosed that 42 percent (686) of households surveyed owned a dog.
According to the findings, little ones who grow up around and actively engage with dogs, from regularly going on family dog walks to playing with the pet, were not only less likely to have difficulties with personal conduct and their peers, but also were more inclined to share and cooperate.
Specifically, kids from dog-owning homes were reportedly between 30 and 40 percent less likely to have problems with conduct or peers. These children also had 23 percent less total difficulties, and were 34 percent more apt to engage in pro-social behaviors than kids who do not have pups.
What’s more, kiddos who helped walk the family dog at least once a week and played with the pooch at least three times a week had an increased likelihood of prosocial behavior by up to 74 percent, while reducing their “total difficulties” by 36 percent, a news release explained.
“While we expected that dog ownership would provide some benefits for young children’s wellbeing, we were surprised that the mere presence of a family dog was associated with many positive behaviors and emotions,” Professor Hayley Christian, a researcher in the study, said in the statement.
“Given how important physical activity is to a child’s health and social and emotional development, we really need to make the most of any opportunity to get kids moving. Our research suggests family [dog] ownership could be a valuable strategy in achieving this.”
As the pandemic continues, it might just be the perfect summer to expand the family with a playful pup.