Better social, emotional well being in children who have dogs at Home

Owning a pet does not reduce symptoms of severe mental illness; study

Children who have dogs at home are better in social as well as emotional well being than those who do not have them at home, according to study of Western Australia and Telethon Kids Institute.

The researchers concluded the findings after going through data from 1,646 households, which had children aged two to five years. They also looked into the age, sex, sleeping habits parent’s education level and screen time.

The researchers found that children who had dogs in their homes were 23 per cent less likely to have difficulties with their emotions and social interactions than those who did not have a dog in their homes. They also said children with dogs were 30 per cent less likely to engage in antisocial behaviours. They were also found to be 40 per cent less likely to have problems interacting with other children. The researchers also noted that these children were 34 per cent more likely to have considerate behaviours like sharing habit.

Co author of the study Associate Professor Hayley Christian said that they were surprised that mere presence of a dog in the family was associated with several positive behaviours and emotions.

It was also found that children who walk with their family dog at least once per week were 36 per cent less likely to have poor social and emotional development than those who walked with their family dog less than once per week.  They noted that children who played with their dogs three or more times a week were 74 more likely to engage in considerate behaviours.

Hayley Christian said that the findings showed that dog ownership would benefit children’s development and wellbeing. The professor also associated this to the attachment between children and their dogs. Hayley Christian said that bold attachments between children and their pets would reflect in the amount of time spent playing and walking together. This could help in the promotion of social and emotional development.

The researchers had analysed social and emotional development of children and its possible association with family dog ownership. They collected data between 2015 and 2018 as part of the Play Spaces and Environments for Children’s Physical Activity (PLAYCE) study.


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