3 October 2001
Dogs help ‘divorce’ kids adjust
Pet dogs may help children adjust to their parents’ divorce, say German researchers.
The group studied the behaviour and feelings of 150 children one year on from their parents’ divorce and found that
children with a dog were more socially integrated and less aggressive than those without. Children without a dog tended
to show more extreme behaviour and were stubborn, irritable and prone to vandalism.
The research was presented at the International Conference on Human Animal Interactions, sponsored by WALTHAM, which was
held last month in Brazil. The conference focused on the effects companion animals can have on human physical and
More than 40 per cent of children without a dog displayed aggressive behaviour, frequently breaking things on purpose,
compared with 25 per cent of the children with dogs.
Extreme irritability was displayed by 38 per cent of the dog-less children compared with 24 per cent of those with dogs.
Thirty-six per cent of children with no dog were found to misbehave to draw attention to themselves, compared with 27
per cent of the children with a dog.
“The research shows that pet dogs can provide children with a strong sense of continuity and stability,” says WALTHAM
spokesperson Jeff Herkt, “a dog is unconditionally affectionate and loyal no matter what.”
“Ninety per cent of the children in this study regarded their dog as an unconditional friend and listener.”
However, Herkt says that parents in the middle of a divorce should not rush out to buy a new dog.
“The families studied had all had their dogs for some time,” he says. “In fact for some parents the additional stress of
a new dog might outweigh the benefits.”
WALTHAM is a global network of leading veterinarians and nutritionists dedicated to improving the health and quality of
life of pets. WALTHAM, recognised as the world’s leading authority on pet-care and nutrition, provides the science
behind the pet food brands Pedigree and Whiskas.
For more information:
Jeff Herkt on 021 973 829 or Catherine Etheredge on 09 309 1494.