By Ann Douglas
A study recently released in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that pet ownership delivers a long list of benefits. Canadian Family asked Jessica Cameron, PhD, associate professor of psychology at the University of Manitoba, to help us interpret the results.
“Having a pet involves taking care of another life, and people who meet that responsibility will end up being more conscientious.” If you involve your kids in caring for the family pet, they will experience the satisfaction that comes from knowing that they can be counted on to meet a commitment.
“One of the most universal sources of self-esteem is acceptance from others,” says Dr. Cameron. “When we receive social support, we feel loved and accepted and this boosts our sense of self-esteem or self-worth.”
Rain or shine (or snow)—the dog needs to be walked! Dr. Cameron adds, “And if you own a pet and feel good about yourself and your life, you may be more likely to take care of yourself.”
Trust and Love
Your child’s love for Fido or Fluffy can help him to learn important lessons about relationships with people. “When people have positive, accepting, supportive bonds with a pet…they are able to learn that relationships can be safe places where you can trust and love.”
“By providing social support and acceptance, pets can lead individuals to feel more comfortable in social situations.” Owning a dog makes it almost automatic, Dr. Cameron notes: “People approach you (‘Oh, what a cute puppy!’) and you learn that meeting new people is a positive experience.”
Thinking about adding a furry friend to your family? Here’s how to determine if your child is ready for the responsibility of a pet.