A Canine Companion May Help Ease a Child’s Fear

Published on December 28, 2015 by in Blog


Canine Companio ChildIf you’re the parent of a pooch, chances are you believe he is simply doggone delightful. He brings unconditional love, companionship and joy to your life; he’s more than just an animal – he’s a best friend and family member. And science has proven he provides you with health benefits, too. For example, studies have shown that people with pets have greater opportunity for exercise and outdoor activity, reducing the risk of coronary heart disease and other heart-related health issues for pet parents. Suffer from depression? Studies have found having a cuddly companion by your side can help reduce stress, and help prevent feelings of isolation and loneliness. Health experts agree – a canine companion can have very positive effects on your health and well-being.

Recently, researchers at Bassett Medical Center in Cooperstown, NY took it a bit further and showed the companionship of a dog may lower a child’s anxiety levels. In a study including 650 children who were screened for anxiety, 58 percent of whom shared their home with a dog, only 12 percent of those with dogs tested positive for anxiety. On the flip side, 21 percent of the children who lived in a dogless home tested positive.

Now, surely you’ve seen a movie or two with a child who blossoms thanks to his faithful pooch sidekick. In Air Bud, a boy who moves to a new town is too shy to try out for the basketball team until a Golden Retriever helps him make the team. And in Because of Winn Dixie, a little girl dog helps her make new friends. Well, as it turns out, a dog’s ability to reduce a child’s anxiety isn’t just a popular movie plot. Dogs are particularly helpful to children who suffer from social and separation anxieties, triggering conversations with others and helping them to feel more at ease with new people.

It was already known that interacting with a friendly dog reduces cortisol levels in humans – cortisol is also referred to as the “stress hormone “. But the researchers’ proof that having a canine companion may reduce a child’s anxiety is quite a find. In today’s world of ADD, ADHD, Generalized Anxiety Disorder and other anxiety related emotional disorders diagnosed in our youth, knowing that a four-legged friend may be a viable option is just what the doctor ordered!

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