The Truth About Your Kids’ Bond With the Family Pet

New research suggests children may have a stronger bond with their pets than their own siblings. 

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Photo by John Howard/Getty Images

Just call it puppy love: Kids, particularly those experiencing adversity (such as divorce, death, instability, or illness), are likely to confide in their pets—maybe even more so than their own siblings, according to a 10-year study of 100 families in the United Kingdom.



Perhaps most surprising is the fact that children not only turn to their furry friends for support during tough times, but that they do it more than turning to their human peers, researcher Matt Cassels, a Ph.D. candidate at Cambridge University, said in a statement.

Although kids understand that their pets can’t comprehend their thoughts, “they may feel that their pets are not judging them and since pets don't appear to have their own problems they just listen,” Cassels said in the statement.

"Pets are relatable and ubiquitous," he said. "In the U.S. and England pets are more common in families with young children than resident fathers and yet we don't quantify how important they are to us."

The study also suggests that a child who has a strong bond with their pet may be better equipped than their peers for certain social situations, such as helping, sharing, and cooperating.

Could it be time to finally say “yes” to those incessant pleas for a puppy?