Children, Social Development and Family Life

Pets are an integral part of Australian childhood. Research shows that families with children are in fact the most likely group within the community to have a pet. More than being a simple playmate and confidante, research shows that pets can also aid childhood development, particularly the development of nurturing and social skills, and reduce the feelings of stress experienced by children. Pets have also been proven to increase the levels of exercise undertaken by families.





  1. Guttman, G, Predovic, M, & Zemanek, M, ‘The influence of pet ownership on non-verbal communication and social competence in children’, 1983, The Human-Pet Relationship: international symposium on the occasion of the 80th birthday of Nobel Prize winner Prof Konrad Lorenz. Vienna: Institute for Interdisciplinary Research on the Human-Pet Relationship.
  1. Filiatre, JC, Millot, JL, & Montagner, H, 1985, ’New findings on communication behavior between the young child and his pet dog’, 1985, International Symposium on the Human-Pet Relationship, Vienna: IEMT. 
  1. Bergler, R, 1995,’The influence of dogs on the behavior of juveniles in the big cities’, 1995, Animals, Health and Quality of Life, 7th International Conference on Human-Animal Interactions, Geneva, September.
  1. Salmon, J, Telford, A, & Crawford D, The Children’s Leisure Activities Study, Summary Report, Deakin University Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition, 2004.
  1. Nagengast, SL, Baun, MM, Megel, M, and Leibowitz, JM, 1997,‘The effects of the presence of a companion animal on physiological arousal and behavioural distress in children, Journal of Pediatric Nursing, vol. 12, pp. 323-330.
  1. Thompson, KL, & Gullone, E, ‘Prosocial and Antisocial Behaviours in Adolescents: An Investigation into Associations with Attachment and Empathy’, Anthrozoos, vol.21, no. 2, pp. 123-137.


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