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05th Mar 2024

Study finds young children with dogs have better physical and emotional health

Jody Coffey


This is further proof that dogs are the best

If you’re on the fence about introducing dogs into your family home, these benefits may just sway your decision.

One study has found that children between the ages of two and five from canine-owning households had increased pro-social behaviours and boosted the physical and emotional health.

The research conducted by Telethon Kids Institute found that children with dogs were more likely to share and cooperate and were less likely to have conduct or peer problems, compared to children without one.

Credit: Getty

Associate Professor, Hayley Christian, and her team of researchers determined that having a pup in the family had a range of benefits for school-aged children, as well as benefits for stress and mental health in adults.

The beneficial impacts for young children were also linked to how often the children played with or walked their pets.

Credit: Getty

While canines are widely adored, Associate Professor Christian admitted they were surprised by the results.

“While we expected that dog ownership would provide some benefits for young children’s wellbeing, we were surprised the mere presence of a family dog was associated with many positive behaviours and emotions,” she explained.

“The increased time children spend with their dog whilst playing with it or going on family dog walks may be one of the key mechanisms through which dog ownership facilitates young children’s social-emotional wellbeing.”

While the study, which involved more than 1,600 families, highlighted the positive benefits of dog ownership. Dr Christian cautioned the significant responsibility and commitment of having a dog, urging families not to rush into it.