A new study found that dogs could help toddlers develop social and emotional development skills. The study said that walking and playing with a family dog is beneficial to toddlers, especially during the coronavirus pandemic when people are stuck inside.

Toddlers in the study were 30% less likely to have conduct and peer problems compared to preschoolers without a family dog. The study found that toddlers benefit from supervised play with dogs.

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“Regular physical activity plays an important role during early childhood, contributing to young children’s development and decreasing their risk of developing chronic diseases including obesity,” said the study’s senior author Hayley Christian. Christian urged the importance of physical activity for toddlers and that dogs might help children keep active during the day.

Toddlers from dog-owning families were likelier to show prosocial behaviors and lower overall difficulties. Toddlers that walked their dog at least one day a week and played with dogs at least three times a week had higher prosocial scores than toddlers that did not.

“These results highlight that even a small to moderate commitment to involving preschoolers in time spent walking with the family dog may provide important social and emotional benefits for young children,” the study said.

If you’re thinking about getting a dog, we encourage everyone to adopt, not shop! Read more resources about adopting animals on One Green Planet, including 7 Reasons to Adopt Your Next Furry Best Friend, 5 Reasons Why Everyone Should Adopt a Pet, and These Heartwarming Before and After Pictures of Adopted Rescue Animals Will Make Your Day! Read tips for pet adoptions and what to consider before adopting an animal. We recommend using these apps to find shelter dogs near you!

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