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Kids Are Closer To Pets Than Their Own Siblings: Study

30 January 2017, 9:28 pm EST By Katrina Pascual Tech Times
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Dogs are man’s best friend. Tweak the adage a bit and you get the findings of a new study: pets are children’s best buds — closer to them than their own brothers and sisters.

University of Cambridge researchers examined children’s relationship with their pets and found that they derived more satisfaction from animal companions and got along better with them than with their siblings.

These pets may then wield a great influence on the kids’ development, potentially benefiting their social skills as well as emotional health.

Greater Love For The Furry Ones

The team studied 12-year-olds from 77 different families that owned at least one pet and at least one child in their household. The participants reported having sturdy relationships with their furry friends compared to their siblings, marked by lower conflict rates and higher satisfaction in playmates of dogs than other pets.

“Even though pets may not fully understand or respond verbally, the level of disclosure to pets was no less than to siblings,” said lead author Matt Cassells from the psychiatry department of Cambridge even seeing such inability to talk back or comprehend as a positive way of being non-judgmental toward the children.

Previous research showed that boys often disclosed stronger ties with their pets than girls generally do. The new study, however, saw the opposite: the two were equally satisfied with their pet relationships, but girls revealed more sharing, companionship, and conflict with the creatures than boys did.

This contributes to growing proof that pets positively affect human health and sense of community, with the social benefits young people are getting from their pets a good support for their psychological wellness in later life, the researchers added.

The findings were discussed in the Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology.

“Pets are common but their importance to children and early adolescents has received scant empirical attention. This is partly due to a lack of tools for measuring child-pet relationships,” the study noted.

Humans do not have a monopoly of potential challenges in sibling relationships. A new study has revealed that chicks’ food-begging habits have sibling rivalry as a major factor. In that situation, chicks display dishonesty along with other pressure points like insecurity that stems from perceived competition from half-siblings, or even instability emerging from the death of parents or parents changing partners.

Pet Custody

In a first, divorce courts in Alaska were recently allowed to assign joint custody of pets in messy divorce settlements, effectively treating them more like children.

An amendment to its divorce statutes last week made Alaska the first U.S. state to require its courts to consider an animal’s well-being and to explicitly equip judges with the power to assign joint pet custody.

Courts around the country have been challenged by the evolving social status of animals, with decisions on custody, monetary support, and visitation sought out by parties involved in a divorce case.

Michigan State University professor and animal law specialist David Favre dubbed the development “significant,” the courts for the first time awarding custody based on the welfare of the dog and not its human owners.

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