New research shows that having a pet dog can help to reduce children's stress. A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the USA shows that petting a dog is a great way to help stressed kids. Researchers looked at 643 children aged six and seven over an 18-month period. They found that children who have a pet dog suffer from less stress than children without a dog. The researchers said that just twelve per cent of children with pets showed signs of stress. This compares with 21 per cent of children with no dog. The research will come as no surprise to the parents of children who have a dog. They have always known that a dog is great for helping a child's development and mental health.
A researcher said there are many things about the research that she is still unclear about. She said she did not know if less anxious children have pet dogs, or if it is the other way round and pet dogs make children less anxious. She said the research just showed a link between pet dogs and children's stress. She said pet dogs help children start conversations. This can often be difficult for children to do and can cause them stress. The researchers also said a pet dog can be a source of comfort for children. The dog can also act as a friend to a small child, who tells the pet all his or her secrets and stories. Sometimes the dog is so important that its name can be the first word the child speaks.