Pets can stimulate conversation, creating an ice-breaking effect that alleviates social anxiety. Dogs also tend to follow human communicative cues, which could help in emotional development.
Children aged 7-8 years have previously ranked pets higher than humans as providers of comfort and self-esteem, and as confidants.
Animal-assisted therapy (AAT) with dogs reduces anxiety and arousal, alleviates separation anxiety and enhances attachment in children, thereby improving mental health and reducing developmental disorders.
Promoting children’s behavioral and emotional competence can help prevent mental, emotional and behavioral disorders during adulthood.
If exposure to pet dogs during childhood can help achieve these goals, positive child-dog interactions could prevent potential problems from developing during adolescence or later life. [x]
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