As if you needed another reason to cheer for family dogs, a recent study found that our beloved pooches actually help decrease anxiety in young children. Published last month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an 18-month study of 643 children between the ages of 4 and 10 years old revealed what we knew all along…family dogs are great for children! Studies on the positive effects of pet ownership in adults are plentiful, but studies on the mental health benefits of having a dog as a child are fewer and further between. Perhaps this is because we all naturally assume that the benefits are pretty awesome, but it’s nice to have our thoughts officially validated!
More research is needed to test the CDC’s results and to find out, if true, exactly how relationships between family dogs and kids specifically work to reduce childhood anxiety. It’s been posited that because a dog acts as a playmate, a companion, a protector and a confidante, children are able to gain significant mental health benefits through regular interactions with family dogs.
Beyond wanting you to go out and adopt a pet for your children, we highlight this study because of its overall importance to society. Think about it, most adults who suffer from anxiety began to feel its effects in childhood. As parents and caretakers, it is important to understand holistic ways of helping children combat stress and anxiety in order for them to grow into healthy and well-balanced adults. Since family dogs are also known to help build a child’s immune system and instill a sense of responsibility, we are thrilled to add anxiety reduction to our list of reasons why every kid deserves a pet pooch today!
Did you have family dogs while growing up? How many and what breeds? Do you have a dog in your family today? What kind of relationship does your child have with your dog? Have you noticed any parallels between your child’s bond with your dog and her mental health? Let us know what you think about this study and its results in the comments section below.