Owning a pet may in fact help children with their homework rather than hinder their progress, a new study has revealed.
The survey by Pets at Home of 1,000 pet-owning children, aged between 5 to 16 years old, revealed that the vast majority about 79% believed that their animal friends had a positive effect on their homework and schoolwork in general.
Children with rats or mice were the most likely to believe that their pet could be helping them with their homework that is 92%, against 86% and 80% for children owning dogs and cats respectively.
Wildlife TV presenter and animal lover Michaela Strachan has endorsed the findings.
“I have a seven-year-old and three older step children. We have a Jack Russell and my stepdaughter has two rescue dogs,” the Daily Mail quoted Strachan as saying.
“Toto, our dog, is part of our family and has brought huge benefits to Ollie, my son. Jade’s two rescue dogs, Marley and Timmy, have had a really positive impact.
“Owning a pet can bring so much pleasure to a family. It can increase a child’s sense of responsibility, nurture a more caring attitude and develop self-confidence and, in the case of having a dog, it encourages kids to get outside more. There can be so many benefits,” she said.
Nearly half of children believed that owning and looking after a pet made them happier, a third claimed to be calmer, while a fifth felt more intelligent.
East Anglia (57%) and Scotland (54%) were the places where most children felt happier as a result of owning and caring for a pet.
Figures also showed that chinchillas and degus have had the biggest influence on a child’s cleverness, with 55% of children owning such pets feeling more intelligent.
Commissioned by Pets at Home as part of their Kids’ Holiday Pet Club, a series of free pet workshops for children taking place at all stores throughout the summer holidays, the study identified the other significant improvements children noticed through pet ownership.
More than a third (36%) said that they had become more caring, 34% felt a greater sense of responsibility, while one in five had become better at talking to people.
Reptile owners, with 68%, topped the charts for those believing their pet had given them a greater sense of responsibility.
Rabbit owners come second with 61%; 40% for cat owners and 36% for dog owners.
“Owning a pet also has a positive impact on a child’s level of fitness,” Scott Jefferson, marketing director for Pets at Home, said.
“More than 30% of children who took part in our survey said they had become more active as a result of owning a pet,” he added.