Young children from dog-owning households were found to have better social and emotional development than children from households who do not own a dog, reveals a new study published in the journal Pediatric Research.
The researchers found that, after taking into account children's age, biological sex, sleep habits, screen time and parents' education levels, children from dog-owning households were 23% less likely to have overall difficulties with their emotions and social interactions than children who did not own a dog.
Children from dog-owning households were 30% less likely to engage in antisocial behaviours, 40% less likely to have problems interacting with other children, and were 34% more likely to engage in considerate behaviours, such as sharing.
Pets can influence children's social skills, physical health, and even cognitive development, and that keeping them is associated with higher levels of empathy. For children with autism and their families, pet care may help reduce stress and create opportunities to form supportive bonds.