Study: Children With Dogs Are Less Anxious

We at Lakeside have become firm believers that dogs are a huge asset and stress-reliever for our students. I think a sense of calm and brain regulation are essential to helping children and teenagers be able to cope with life and social stressors they face each day.

Dogs help children calm

Lakeside service dog
One of Lakeside’s two new service dogs being friendly.

It is amazing how having a dog in our hallways and classrooms has helped so many of our students find a bit of calm within a stressful world. Confirming that is another recent article by the WISH TV staff validating the use of dogs as a way to help our kids manage their worlds just a little easier.

A new study says dogs can help reduce anxiety in children.

Bassett Medical Center in New York did a study on 643 children ages 6 and 7. They found 12 percent of children with pet dogs tested positive for anxiety, compared to 21 percent of children who did not have a dog.

Dr. Anne Gadomski and colleagues, who wrote in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease, said kids between 7 and 8 ranked pets more as providers of comfort and self-esteems than humans.

“Animal-assisted therapy with dogs affects children’s mental health and developmental disorders by reducing anxiety and arousal or enhancing attachment,” Gadomski’s team wrote.

The researchers asked parents for specific details about what type of anxiety a child showed. Research showed pets helped in several areas.

“Significant differences between groups were found for the separation anxiety component (‘My child is afraid to be alone in the house’) and social anxiety component (‘My child is shy’) favoring pet ownership,” Gadomski’s team wrote.

About 73 percent of the families in the study had a pet, but most, 58 percent, had dogs.

The team of doctors also found that dogs can act as icebreakers, which can help to reduce social anxiety.

As of now, the study as only been performed on dogs.

Gadomski said her team looked at dogs because there’s so much research on them. She said it doesn’t mean that cats can’t do the same thing.

I know that it can sound a bit simplistic to just say ,”Get a pet!” to reduce stress.  Yet as we have seen and as research has established, dogs are a great asset to reducing stress in our children.  I think it is something worth considering for any environment where children are present.

Gerry Vassar, President/CEO, Lakeside Educational Network


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