According to a new survey, children raised with pets feel more confident, caring and responsible than their pet-less peers. Commissioned by Pets at Home, the survey of 1,000 pet-owning children suggests that those who share a home with one or more pet are not just physically healthier – they also enjoy mental health benefits from pet ownership.
Nearly half of survey respondents reported that living with a pet makes them happier. Thirty percent of those surveyed said they felt more calm in the presence of pets, and twenty percent said their pets actually make them feel more intelligent.
Wildlife TV presenter Michaela Strachan says she has seen evidence of those findings in her own children in an interview with the Daily Mail. “I have a seven-year-old and three older step children. We have a Jack Russell and my stepdaughter has two rescue dogs. Toto, our dog, is part of our family and has brought huge benefits to Ollie, my son. Jade’s two rescue dogs, Marley and Timmy, have had a really positive impact,” she said.
The survey also notes that more than a third of children living with pets say they have become more caring, and that they feel a greater overall sense of responsibility. Twenty percent of survey participants said having pets made them feel more confident when speaking with others.
Parents worried that pets will distract their children from their studies should allay those concerns: the majority (79%) of those surveyed claimed that their pets have had a positive effect on their homework and schoolwork.
Strachan agrees. “Owning a pet can bring so much pleasure to a family. It can increase a child’s sense of responsibility, nurture a more caring attitude and develop self-confidence and, in the case of having a dog, it encourages kids to get outside more. There can be so many benefits.”