New Research Shows Dogs Can Help De-Stress Families With Autistic Children

The Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) Foundation recently released the results of a long-term study that explored the effects of pet dogs on families with children with autism spectrum disorder, and the findings are quite paw-sitive!

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Published in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior, the study showed significantly improved family functioning in families with a dog compared to those without. The study also found a reduction in parent-child dysfunctional interactions among families that had a dog.

So, what does this mean? In families with autistic children, a dog can aide in creating a less stressful, more calm environment. As HABRI Executive Director Steven Feldman explains, “Parents of children with autism can experience increased anxiety and stress, and now we have strong scientific evidence to show that pets can have positive effects on these quality-of-life issues.” He also noted that a pet dog is something to consider as a way to “improve family harmony.”

This study is among the first published studies of more than a dozen HABRI-funded research projects examining the effects of companion animals on human health. For more information and to read about the innovative research projects HABRI has funded, visit their website.

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