Children get on better with, and derive more satisfaction from, their pets than with their own brothers and sisters, a report suggests.

Kids with pets.
It is thought household pets could have a major influence on child development.

The research, from the University of Cambridge, is seen as adding to increasing evidence household pets may have a major influence on child development and could have a positive impact on a child’s social skills and emotional well-being.

Studying relationships

The study, published in the Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, was conducted in collaboration with the Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition, and was co-funded by the Economic and Social Research Council as part of a larger study led by Claire Hughes at the University of Cambridge Centre for Family Research.

Researchers surveyed 12-year-old children from 77 families with one or more pet of any type and more than one child at home.

Less conflict

Children reported strong relationships with their pets relative to their siblings, with lower levels of conflict and greater satisfaction in owners of dogs than other kinds of pets.

To read the study in full, visit ScienceDirect’s website.

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