Thank your dog for keeping your child anxiety-free, as a new study published by researchers with the Bassett Medical Center praises the dog-child connection.
If we believe children are out of the reach of anxiety and stress, we’re wrong. Environmental and social factors alike contribute to elevated risks of anxiety with children too. Being an an anxious child opens the door for a cohort of developmental problems throughout adult life. Yet, the new study offers an easy way out for children: pet dogs.
Pet dogs are lovely companions, their loyalty and devotion earning them the popular title of ‘man’s best friend’. The furry companions might be just that. Perfectly attuned to your emotional states and cues, pet dogs create a lasting bond which is crucial for children in reducing anxiety levels.
The researchers of the Bassett Medical Center studied the anxiety levels of 643 children in the age group of four to ten. 58 percent of the children involved in the study had a pet dog.
After monitoring the children for anxiety and stress levels and other factors were accounted for, the researchers concluded that you should thank your dog for keeping your child anxiety-free. Overall, 21 percent of the children who did not own a pet dog were found to have elevated anxiety levels. At the other end of the spectrum, only 12 percent of the children who owned a furry companion had higher anxiety levels.
How do pet dogs contribute to lessening anxiety levels? Simply by being present and engaging children in a lasting bond of friendship and responsibility. Children are happy when they play with their furry companions. As such, more oxytocin is being pushed. In return, cortisol levels drop significantly and stress and anxiety levels follow.
Pet dogs are the stars of animal-assisted therapy too. The reason behind what makes pet dogs the most fit in this case is the same as with reducing children’s anxiety levels. A pet dog responds to emotional cues of the owner or owners immediately. Attachment also underpins the release of more oxytocin.
And if keeping your child anxiety-free doesn’t suffice as an argument for getting a pet dog (provided of course, none of the members of the family are allergic), know that previous research has also highlighted that children owning a pet dog are less likely to become obese.
Thus, in addition to learning responsibility, a child will also play, run and walk with their furry companion, cutting sitting time.
Photo Credits: Flickr