Young children with pet dogs seen having fewer social interaction problems than other kids

  • Children who had dogs were 34 percent more likely to engage in considerate behaviors, such as sharing or helping others.

    Children who had dogs were 34 percent more likely to engage in considerate behaviors, such as sharing or helping others. Stock photo

 
 
Posted7/28/2020 6:00 AM

Young children with family dogs were 23 percent less likely to have social interaction problems than children whose households do not have a dog, some recent research suggests.

The finding comes from an analysis of data from a three-year study of 1,646 households with preschool children ages 2 to 5. Specifically, the researchers found that children who had a dog were 30 percent less likely to engage in antisocial behavior and 40 percent less likely to have problems interacting with other children than were youngsters from homes that did not include a dog.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

In addition, children who had dogs were 34 percent more likely to engage in considerate behaviors, such as sharing or helping others. And the more time they spent playing with their dog the more a child was likely to be considerate - those who had three or more play sessions with their dog each week were 74 percent more likely to be consistently considerate compared with those who played less often.

One of the researchers said that the "mere presence of a family dog was associated with many positive behaviors and emotions." The study also noted that the "findings suggest that the benefits from owning a pet (dog) may commence early in childhood." The research did not, however, prove a cause-and-effect link between a dog and a child's behavior, stating that it could be coincidental that youngsters with good social and emotional development have dogs or that the families of children with dogs may offer more nurturing environments.

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