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Having A Dog May Impact A Child's Independent Mobility

The family dog just got a whole lot more popular.

Parents may be more likely to let their children travel independently if they are accompanied by the family dog, according to new research.

A study published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health has revealed kids aged between eight and 15 with an older sibling or a dog may be granted more independence than their dog-free and older-sibling-less friends.

The study -- conducted by The University of Western Australia, The University of Melbourne and Telethon Kids Institute -- uncovered how sibling age, gender and dog ownership effected children's independent mobility and how this varied according to the destinations they visited -- school, friends' houses, and the local park and shops.

"Dog ownership was associated with overall independent mobility. This suggests that the family dog should be considered an important form of non-adult accompaniment, in that it offers company and may provide parents with an increased sense of safety."

Owning a dog may give children greater independence, but the study indicated having an older sibling significantly impacted kid's independent mobility, providing parents "with an added sense of safety and perceived protection".

The report outlined that children's levels of traveling independently are decreasing.

"Multiple factors influence the declining trend...including demographic (e.g. gender), social (e.g. perceptions of strangers) and physical environment factors (e.g. traffic exposure)," the report states.

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