Companion animals improve people’s physical and psychological health. Different medical studies have confirmed that living with a pet helps lower blood pressure and levels of cortisol (the stress hormone). Same way, They provide significant social support, help reduce feelings of loneliness and improve people’s mood. But there is more. Living with an animal is especially beneficial for boys and girls. Dogs are the animals that report the most benefits. “They provide more physical interaction than we can have with other animals. This fact can be a very important advantage for minors,” explains Jaume Fatjó, head of the Affinity Animal and Health Foundation at the Autonomous University of Barcelona.
The physical and emotional benefits of owning a pet
Dogs are not only great playmates, but they also facilitate the development and learning of certain emotional and social skills. “Companion animal for families, opportunity to develop a sense of responsibility and empathy in minors, because they depend on us to be happy. But it is important for adults to teach little ones to have good relations with their animals and, above all, to respect their particular need for privacy”, Fatjó points out.
By a study published in the medical journal Pediatric Research, children aged two to five who are actively living with a dogthat is, they participate in their daily routines such as walking and eating, show greater emotional and social development. The study shows that minors are 30% less likely to have behavior problems or issues with classmates compared to other minors who don’t have dogs.
The report also highlights the important role pets play in life. encourage physical exercise and avoid a sedentary lifestyle. According to another investigation supported by Human Animal Ties Research Institute (NEWS), Minors from families with dogs lead a more active life: Just walking with the animal means 29 minutes of exercise a day. For researchers Owning a dog can help fight childhood obesityConsidered one of the most serious problems of the 21st century by the World Health Organization (WHO).
A study conducted by a group of researchers from the Department of Psychology at Rovira i Virgili University (URV) in Tarragona came to similar conclusions. After following 120 children ages three to five and analyzing the impact of contact with these animals on their social and emotional development, they concluded: The presence of pets from the first years of life helps a lot.
Animals bring more sociability and responsibility
Advantages living with dogs They are appreciated not only among children of preschool age. Older children and adolescents also receive favors from these animals. Dogs help build self-esteem, provide a sense of security, allow minors to develop a sense of coexistence, teach to share -not only in the material sphere, but also in the emotional sphere-, reduce feelings of loneliness and reduce stress. “Any emotional behavior causes us to release hormones related to psychological well-being,” says Elena Daprá, a clinical psychologist at the Official College of Psychology in Madrid.
They also help socialize boys and girls. “During the walk, for example, there is a meeting with other children who have a dog. In these cases, the animal becomes a ring, something common that allows us to start talking,” he emphasizes.
Same way, Dogs encourage the acquisition of responsibilities. “It works very well if the parents want it. Responsibilities come with value learning. Using empathy increases the value of not doing to others what you wouldn’t want done to you. Moreover, dogs reduce aggression: the animal reacts to what is in front of it, and if the child is aggressive, so will the animal; and vice versa,” summarizes the expert.
Pets can be therapeutic
In the therapeutic field, animals are excellent mediators. In the United States it is very common to promote them as: psychological therapy support, as in minors with post-traumatic stress (PTSD). This disorder is characterized by very clear symptoms: negative changes in cognition, low mood, too much avoidance and very intrusive thoughts, especially about the traumatic event.
“The dog has some characteristics that can come in handy in case of intrusive thoughts. The animal is a stimulant that reinforces being in a safe environment. Therefore, it serves as a secure foundation for the experiences, moments and situations that make the child consciously present”, explains Elena Daprá.
“Moreover evokes pleasant feelings This somehow compensates for the unpleasant feelings that minors have due to the traumatic event,” adds Daprá. “this animal therapy Children have a high success rateHowever, there is no credible evidence that this development originated solely from animals,” concludes the psychologist.
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