The study revealed children can relate to their dog more than their sibling.
When it comes to forming bonds, children are more likely to find friendship and emotional comfort in their canine companion than their siblings according to a study from Cambridge University.
Children found more satisfaction from their relationship with dogs and got along much better with them than their own siblings. The results came from a survey of 12 year-olds from 77 different families who owned a pet. This data translated to many of the children establishing a close bond with their pet despite not being able to communicate fully with them. And the dog came out on top.
“One of the more striking findings from our study is that children do not report less disclosure with their pets than with their siblings despite the fact that pets cannot communicate meaningfully or understand what is being said to them,” explained lead author of the study, Matt Cassels. “While this may seem like a strike against pets as confidants it may actually highlight one of their primary advantages over siblings; pets are not judgmental or critical, won’t disagree, and will never share a secret.”
The relationship between a child and its family pet has been an interesting subject with researchers asking how beneficial having an animal while growing up is to the social and emotional development of a child. While many believe having a pet has an advantage, many question whether it can harm a child’s ability to develop human relationships into adulthood.
“It is always of course possible that pet relationships, although perceived as important by children, may be less predictive of wellbeing than other human relationships, or may even be detrimental if they replace beneficial human relationships,” said Cassels.
However, the survey results show the opposite, with both girls and boys claiming positive effects on health, companionship and social benefits.
Details of the study were published in The Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology.