If you’ve hesitated to get a dog because your kids are very young, new research suggests that the preschool years might be a good time to add a furry friend to the family.
The study found that preschoolers with dogs at home had fewer problems with their peers or other behavior problems compared to youngsters without a family dog. Tots who walked and played with their dog more often were likely to be more social, too.
“Young children who walked or played with their family dog were more likely to have pro-social behaviors, such as sharing and cooperating,” said study senior author Hayley Christian. She’s an associate professor and senior research fellow at the University of Western Australia and Telethon Kids Institute.
Christian added that past research has shown that pets may be helpful for children’s self-esteem, autonomy, empathy, trust and confidence.
“For many children, pets are a source of unconditional love and loyalty. They can be social enablers and help teach children about responsibility through caring, training and looking after their pet,” she said.
The Australian study used data from a survey of more than 1,600 families with children aged 2 to 5. Many — 42% — of the families had dogs. The surveys were done between 2015 and 2018.
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