The Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) Foundation recently announced the results of a study designed to explore the effects of pet dogs on the families of children with autism spectrum disorder.
The study, led by Daniel Mills of the University of Lincoln, was recently published in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior Clinical Applications and Research. Among the study’s results was the finding that families with a pet dog exhibit better functioning and lower stress than those without.
Using standardized self-report measures, families who had acquired a pet dog (intervention group; n = 22) showed significantly improved family functioning in comparison to control group families (n = 15, with no dog). Both groups showed reductions in domains of parenting stress. These reductions were more evident in the intervention group; 20% of parents moved from clinically high to normal stress levels. In the domain of parent-child dysfunctional interactions, reductions were only observed in the intervention group. A significant positive relationship was observed between parenting stress of the child’s main carer and their attachment to the dog.
A summary of results can be found on HABRI.org.