Growing up with a dog can have numerous benefits for children. Studies have found that children from dog-owning families tend to have lower peer problems and conduct problems and higher prosocial behaviors than children from non-dog-owning families.
“The newest contribution to the scientific community is an analysis of nearly 400 research documents published over the span of two decades (1980-2022) showing evidence for an association between childhood interactions with dogs and benefits such as increased physical activity, a reduction of stress, and the development of empathy.”
“Black families tend to own fewer dogs than any other ethnic group at 20.3% compared to 52% of white families.” — NIH
In addition, dogs can help children develop important social and emotional skills such as empathy and compassion. Veterinarians.org compiled a list of some of the insights from researchers studying the child-dog bond:
Dogs can have a positive influence on children’s behavior. Studies have shown that young children from dog-owning families had lower peer problems and conduct problems, and higher prosocial behaviors than children from non-dog-owning families. Dogs can help children develop social skills such as empathy, compassion, and responsibility.
Stronger Immune Systems
Exposure to dogs in infancy can boost immune system development and reduce wheezing and atopy, according to the National Library of Medicine. This means that children who grow up with dogs may be less likely to develop allergies or other immune-related health issues.
Improved Emotional Wellbeing
Pets can protect children from developing social-emotional problems, and can promote positive emotional health. Children without siblings may benefit most from pet ownership in terms of their prosocial behavior, according to the National Library of Medicine. Owning a dog can prevent issues such as anxiety and depression, and promote positive emotional health.
Having a dog can help children develop a sense of responsibility. Studies have found that children from dog-owning families have higher levels of personal responsibility and autonomy, as well as improved empathy towards peers and better self-esteem. This can help children develop important life skills that will benefit them in the future.
Dogs can provide children with a sense of companionship and social support, which is especially important for those who may feel lonely or isolated. Pet owners reported significantly lower loneliness scores than non-pet owners, according to research by Science Direct. Having a dog can help children feel more connected to others and less alone.
Unfortunately, not all families have access to these benefits. Research by Statista shows that dog ownership rates are lower among Black families than other racial and ethnic groups in the US. This could be due to factors such as cultural differences in pet ownership, housing restrictions, and financial barriers.
Growing up with a dog can have numerous benefits for children. From improved behavior to stronger immune systems, increased responsibility, and reduced loneliness, dogs can have a positive influence on children’s lives.