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A long-term study conducted by the Human Animal Bond Research Initiative Foundation and published in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior found that families that have children with autism spectrum disorders and also have pet dogs had significantly improved family functioning compared to similar families without dogs. The study also reported fewer parent-child dysfunctional interactions in families that had a dog.
The study’s principal investigator, Daniel Mills, BVSc, Ph.D., a professor with the University of Lincoln, U.K., said, “We found a significant, positive relationship between parenting stress of the child’s main caregiver and their attachment to the family dog.”