Child Health & Development | HABRI

Child Health & Development


Research is demonstrating the positive influence of pets and animal therapy on a child’s physical, social, emotional and cognitive development.

Reading & Cognition

A classroom pet has been found to be a motivating factor for children as an important mode of action in improving reading performance, and:

  • Children in studies have reported liking the animal and enjoying reading to him/her, increasing their motivation to read
  • Animals are natural incentives that encourage children to read
  • Companion animals are great listeners & help relieve stress
    • Dogs are not judgmental, they do not laugh, criticize and allow children to read at their own pace
    • Dogs can reduce stress reactions of children performing a stressful task[1]

Emotional Development & Social Skills

  • The presence of a dog in a classroom fosters development of autonomous functioning and a better segregation of self/non-self, which is the foundation of sensitivity towards the needs and moods of other people
  • Studies have found that classroom pets lead to higher social integration, fewer aggressive children[2]
  • Classroom pets also improve students’ attitudes toward school, facilitated students’ learning lessons in responsibility, respect and empathy[3]
  • Dogs aren’t the only type of effective classroom pet.
  • Guinea pigs have also been found to be a feasible, positive addition to the primary classroom to improve social functioning.[4]

“Anecdotally, we know that incorporating pets in the classroom teaches life lessons of empathy and responsibility and helps shape students’ lives for years to come. This study will further advance the scientific data behind the benefits of the program to help it expand its reach so that more and more children can experience the benefits of the human-animal bond.”
– Steve King, Executive Director of the Pet Care Trust and President of the Pet Industry Distributors Association

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