Pet dogs linked to improved social-emotional development in young children


  • Dawn O'Shea
  • Univadis Medical News
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Young children from dog-owning households have better social and emotional wellbeing than children from households who do not own a dog, suggests research published in the journal Pediatric Research.

The study used questionnaire data from 1,646 households with children aged 2-5 years.

After taking into account children’s age, biological sex, sleep habits, screen time and parents’ education levels, children from dog-owning households were 23 per cent 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 per cent less likely to engage in antisocial behaviours, 40 per cent less likely to have problems interacting with other children, and were 34 per cent more likely to engage in considerate behaviours, such as sharing.

Children who played with their family dog three or more times per week were 74 per cent more likely to regularly engage in considerate behaviours than those who played with their dog less than three times per week.

Associate Professor and co-author Hayley Christian, said: “While we expected that dog ownership would provide some benefits for young children’s wellbeing, we were surprised that the mere presence of a family dog was associated with many positive behaviours and emotions.”