New Study Suggests Your Siblings Like Your Pet More than They Like You

This findings point to the important role pets can play in childhood development

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It’s fidos before bros for many siblings, a recent study has found.

According to a new study from the University of Cambridge, children get more satisfaction from the relationships they have with their pets than with their brothers and sisters.

Maybe not surprising to those with siblings, the research also found that many children get along with their pets better than their siblings.

While not the best news for moms and dads dealing with multiple kids, the study does seem to speak to the importance an animal can play in childhood development, helping kids foster social skills and emotional maturity.

“Anyone who has loved a childhood pet knows that we turn to them for companionship and disclosure, just like relationships between people,” said Matt Cassells, lead researcher for the study, which was published in the Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology. “We wanted to know how strong these relationships are with pets relative to other close family ties. Ultimately this may enable us to understand how animals contribute to healthy child development”

The study was conducted with WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition, which is part of Mars Petcare and the Economic and Social Research Council, as part of a larger look into pets and families. For this portion, 12 years olds from 77 different families with at least one pet and more than one child at home were surveyed. A majority of the children reported having stronger relationships with their pets over their siblings, with dogs leading to the greatest amount of satisfaction for kids.

“Even though pets may not fully understand or respond verbally, the level of disclosure to pets was no less than to siblings,”says Cassels. “The fact that pets cannot understand or talk back may even be a benefit as it means they are completely non-judgmental. While previous research has often found that boys report stronger relationships with their pets than girls do, we actually found the opposite. While boys and girls were equally satisfied with their pets, girls reported more disclosure, companionship, and conflict with their pet than did boys, perhaps indicating that girls may interact with their pets in more nuanced ways.”

This is further proof that pets make the best listeners and secret-keepers, especially when you compare them to your big-mouthed older sister.

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