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Children are kinder if they have a dog and are less likely to have emotional problems, study finds

Pre-school children may be better behaved and kinder if they have a family dog, a study has found.

Experts believe younger children, who spend more time with pets as they are not at school, learn better empathy.

Researchers at the University of Western Australia and Telethon Kids Institute looked at more than 1,600 families with children aged two to five.

Researchers at the University of Western Australia and Telethon Kids Institute found that children who spend more time with pets learn better empathy (file photo)

Researchers at the University of Western Australia and Telethon Kids Institute found that children who spend more time with pets learn better empathy (file photo)

Parents filled out a questionnaire which measured children’s antisocial behaviour, problems interacting with others and ‘prosocial’ behaviours such as kindness and sharing.

Children from dog-owning households were 23 per cent less likely to have difficulties with their emotions and social interactions compared to children who did not own a dog.

Playing with their pet three or more times a week made children 74 per cent more likely to be kind to others.

Dr Hayley Christian, who led the study, said having a dog could benefit children’s development and wellbeing. 

She added: ‘This could be attributed to the attachment between children and their dogs.’

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