Everyone knows that the humble yet fabulously faithful dog is man’s undisputed best friend. Or at least, so we thought, as when it comes to younger members of the family, relationships between kids and pets could well be even stronger than those they have with their own siblings.
Little brothers and sisters can’t always be expected to get along with one another. To such an extent in fact that according to a new study carried out by University of Cambridge researchers, children get significantly more satisfaction from the pets they share the household with than they do their brothers and sisters.
All of which has brought about the conclusion that pets may have an even more significant influence on the development of children than previously thought, impacting and affecting their emotional health and social skills throughout childhood.
The study involved 77 different families with 12-year-old children – each household also being home to at least one pet. By gauging the general satisfaction achieved by spending time together and taking into account conflict rates, the team was able to determine that those taking part had strong relationships with the animals in the household than they did their own siblings.
“Even though pets may not fully understand or respond verbally, the level of disclosure to pets was no less than to siblings,” commented lead author Matt Cassells from the psychiatry department of Cambridge.
Interestingly, the findings of the study somewhat contradicted those of prior research, which had suggested that boys build and disclose stronger relationships with household pets than girls. In this instance, it appeared that the opposite may in fact be the case.
Once again therefore, evidence seems to suggest that human health, happiness and even development from a young age has the potential to be positively impacted by the presence of pets.
“Pets are common but their importance to children and early adolescents has received scant empirical attention. This is partly due to a lack of tools for measuring child-pet relationships,” the study noted.