Corvallis, pray. A new study by researchers at Oregon State University found that dogs synchronized their behavior with children in their families, but not nearly as much as they do with adults.
The researchers said the findings are significant because there is a growing body of evidence that dogs can help children in many ways, including social development, increased physical activity, anxiety management or as a source of attachment in the face of changing family structures. However, little research has focused on how dogs perceive children and how they interact socially.
“The good news is that this study indicates that dogs pay great attention to the children they live with,” said Monique O’Dell, an animal behavior scientist in Oregon and lead author of the study. “They respond to it and, in many cases, act in sync with them, indicators of positive affiliation and the basis for building strong bonds.
One of the interesting things we noticed is that dogs match the behavior of their children less often than we have seen between dogs and their adult caregivers, indicating that while they may view children as social companions, there are also some differences that we need to understand Best. “
The paper was recently published in the journal Animal awareness. The co-authors were Shelby Wanser, a research assistant in the faculty at Udell Lab, and Megan MacDonald, an associate professor at the School of Public Health and Human Sciences in Oregon, who studies how motor skills and physically active lifestyles improve the lives of children who live with or without disabilities.
Researchers recruited 30 young men between the ages of 8 and 17 – 83% of whom had a developmental disability – to participate in the study with the family’s dogs. The experiments were conducted in a large, empty room. Colorful taped lines were placed on the floor, and children were given instructions on how to walk the lines in a uniform manner with their untied dog.
The researchers videotaped the experiences and analyzed the behavior based on three things: (1) Synchronization of activity, which means the amount of time the dog and the child move or are still at the same time; (2) Proximity, or how long the dog and child have been within 1 meter of each other; And (3) steering, the amount of time the dog was directed in the same direction as the child.
They found that dogs exhibited behavioral synchronization with children at a higher rate than would be expected by chance for all three variables. During their reviews, they found:
- Active synchronization averages 60.2% of the time. After its collapse, the dogs were moving an average of 73.1% of the time the children were moving and they were stationary an average of 41.2% of the time the children were stationary.
- The proximity is within 1 meter of each other at an average of 27.1% of the time.
- Trend in the same direction 33.5% of the time.
While child-dog simultaneity occurred more often than would be expected by chance, these percentages are all lower than what other researchers have found when studying interactions between dogs and adults in their homes. These studies found “active synchronization” 81.8% of the time, but 49.1% with shelter dogs. They found “proximity” 72.9% of the time and 39.7% with shelter dogs. No studies of behavioral synchronization between dogs and humans have previously assessed body orientation.
Oregon researchers are conducting more research to understand the factors that contribute to differences in levels of synchronization and other aspects of the quality of bonding between dogs and children compared to dogs and adults, including participation in animal-assisted interventions and increased child responsibility for the dog. Care.
The researchers said that while research has found that dogs can have many positive impacts on a child’s life, there are also risks associated with the relationship between dog and child. For example, other studies have found that dogs are more apt to bite children versus adults.
“We still have a lot to learn about the relationship between dogs and children,” said Odell. “We hope this research can identify the best ways to shape positive outcomes and mitigate risks by helping children interact with dogs in a way that improves the relationship and ultimately the well-being of both individuals.”
Based on this study, Udell also provided some junk food for families with children and dogs.
“What we find is that children are very capable of training dogs, and that dogs care for children and can learn from them,” she said. Sometimes we don’t give enough credit to children and dogs. Our research suggests that with some guidance we can provide important and positive learning experiences for our children and dogs from a very young age, which can make a huge difference in the lives of both of them. ”