Two studies have reinforced evidence suggesting dogs have positive benefits in the lives of children.
In the first, researchers from the University of Florida established pet dogs provided “buffering effects” for children who actively engaged with their animals when they were stressed.
Stress levels monitored
One hundred children aged between 7 and 12 were recruited for the study, published in the journal Social Development.
The children, with their pet dogs, underwent stressful public speaking and mental arithmetic tasks, with their levels of stress hormone cortisol being monitored.
Children who actively solicited their dogs to be petted or stroked demonstrated lower cortisol levels compared to children who engaged their dogs less.
Children with disabilities
In the second study, researchers at Oregon State University showed how the family dog could serve as a partner and ally in efforts to help children with disabilities incorporate more physical activity into their daily lives.
Writing in the journal Animals, the authors highlighted the case study of one 10-year-old boy with cerebral palsy and his family’s dog.
Researchers found their intervention programme led to a wide range of improvements for the boy, including:
- physical activity
- motor skills
- quality of life
- human-animal interactions