Children who grow up with a dog in their house tend to be better behaved andmore considerate than children who don’t, research has found.

Researchers from the University of Western Australia and the Telethon KidsInstitute analysed questionnaire data from 1,646 households with children agedtwo to five.

Children from dog-owning households were 23% less likely to have difficultieswith emotions and social interaction, and 30% less likely to indulge inantisocial behaviour.

The children were also 34% more likely to engage in considerate behaviour suchas sharing toys.

Associate Professor Hayley Christian, the corresponding author, said: “Whilewe expected that dog ownership would provide some benefits for youngchildren’s wellbeing, we were surprised that the mere presence of a family dogwas associated with many positive behaviours and emotions.”

Joining the family dog on walks and playing with the dog also seemed to offerbenefits, the researchers concluded.

Those who joined their family on dog walks at least once per week were 36%less likely to have poor social and emotional development than those whowalked with their family dog less than once per week.

Children who played with their family dog three or more times per week were74% more likely to regularly engage in considerate behaviours than those whoplayed with their dog less than three times per week.

Professor Christian said: “Our findings indicate that dog ownership maybenefit children’s development and wellbeing and we speculate that this couldbe attributed to the attachment between children and their dogs.

“Stronger attachments between children and their pets may be reflected in theamount of time spent playing and walking together and this may promote socialand emotional development.”

The authors analysed data collected between 2015 and 2018 as part of the PlaySpaces and Environments for Children’s Physical Activity study.

Out of the 1,646 households included in the study, 686 (42%) owned a dog.

The authors caution that due to the observational nature of the study theywere not able to determine the exact mechanism by which dog ownership maybenefit social and emotional development in young children, or to establishcause and effect.

Source: Yahoo News

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