If you live near a dog park, or in a large city where dogs are trotted around in designer coats, sweaters, and even strollers (hello, Toronto), you know how close people can get to their pets. Yet interesting new research shows that children may also prefer the company of pets to that of their peers.
In fact, kids often have closer relationships with their pets than they do with their siblings; University of Cambridge scientists have found that children rely more on their pets for affection and emotional support than they do their brothers and sisters.
In a 10-year longitudinal study, led by psychology professor Matt Cassels, researchers looked at social and emotional development over time and found that even though kids knew that their cuddly, best-pal cats and dogs did not understand a word they were saying, they still confided in them, consulted them for consolation, and turned to them for support.
The research team also found that children who had pets expressed a higher level of what is known as “pro-social” behavior, meaning child pet owners were found to be more helpful, sharing and cooperative than their child counterparts who did not have pets. Past studies have also found that children who own pets exhibit more compassion and an ability to take on more roles and responsibility.
If those aren’t reasons to go ahead and give in to your kid’s begging and pleading to bring home a Sparky, we’re not sure what would be. Meanie! Go ahead, get them the dog already.