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Pets are an integral part of our lives as Australians. About 80% of Australians have an animal companion at some time. Pets are important in children's lives as they provide enjoyment and help children develop responsibilities transferable to adulthood. Sometimes pet relationships are ranked higher than certain kinds of human relationships for comfort, esteem, support and confidence. Some benefits of pet ownership have been identified in areas of child development, family harmony and even health.
Having a relationship with a pet can help develop such skills as:
Pet ownership also has a beneficial effect on family harmony. Research shows that families with a pet:
The relaxation and relief from stress provided by animal companionship also yields health benefits for parents. In comparison with their pet-less counterparts, pet owners:
Whilst owning a dog can be a delightful family experience and has enormous benefits for the child and the family, parents need to be aware of the risk of injury from dog bites.