Young children with family dogs were 23 percent less likely to have socialinteraction problems than children whose households do not have a dog, somerecent research suggests. The finding comes from an analysis of data from athree-year study of 1,646 households with preschool children ages 2 to 5.Specifically, the researchers found that children who had a dog were 30percent less likely to engage in antisocial behavior and 40 percent lesslikely to have problems interacting with other children than were youngstersfrom homes that did not include a dog. In addition, children who had dogs were34 percent more likely to engage in considerate behaviors, such as sharing orhelping others. And the more time they spent playing with their dog the more achild was likely to be considerate — those who had three or more play sessionswith their dog each week were 74 percent more likely to be consistentlyconsiderate compared with those who played less often. One of the researcherssaid that the “mere presence of a family dog was associated with many positivebehaviors and emotions.”

The study also noted that the “findings suggest that the benefits from owninga 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, statingthat it could be coincidental that youngsters with good social and emotionaldevelopment have dogs or that the families of children with dogs may offermore nurturing environments.

Source: Linda Searing – Washington Post

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