Children and their Pets

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This study examines the frequency of pet possession and its covariation with family variables (family size, housing conditions, parents' employment, maternal support) among elementary school children. Additionally, children's pet caring activities and their emotional relationship to pets were investigated. Subjects were 426 fourth graders (213 boys, 213 girls). Results indicate that pets are very frequently present in families, with the dog as the most common and most preferred animal. Parents' employment and maternal support do not covariate with pet possession, but housing conditions do. The child-pet relationship depends on childrens' gender, pet type and status of ownership (child vs. family). The intensity of pet caring is mainly related to pet type and ownership, whereas the quality of emotional contact depends on pet type and childrens' gender. On the background of manifold articles reporting case studies and educational, respectively clinical counseling experiences the discussion emphasizes the need for sound empirical research on the relationship between personality characteristics and pet ownership.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: December 1, 1994

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