All parents want the best for their children, and it just may be that having a dog is one way to achieve that. In this case, “best” refers to opportunities for optimal social and emotional development as well as for the proper amount of physical activity.

A new study from Australia, which involved children two to five years old from a range of socioeconomic backgrounds, found that young children in households with dogs exhibited better social and emotional development than those in homes without dogs.

In households with dogs, young children were far less likely to have behavioral problems, including losing their temper, general misbehavior and fighting with other children. Children with dogs more often displayed prosocial behavior, such things as being helpful if someone is upset, injured or ill, and being thoughtful about other people’s feelings.

While just having a dog in the…

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