Study Finds New Benefit of Owning a Dog


| LAST UPDATE 07/11/2022

By Stanley Wickens
dog crime neighborhood study
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Dogs really have proven time and again to be our best friends. When we come home at the end of every day, we find them right there, eager to see us like always. And among the many, many benefits we can list of owning a dog, a recent study has found one more that most of us probably didn't see coming.

Not only are these animals intelligent and entertaining, but they also appear to be lowering neighborhood crimes. And no, we're not only referring to the larger canines who bare their fangs at any stranger who dares to come near. Rather, there's a less obvious link between these pets and safety. As we all know, owning a dog most likely means you have to take it out at least twice a day, and that means more people are roaming the neighborhood at various times throughout the day. And when there are more people out on the street, that means there are more pairs of eyes to catch any suspicious activity.

dog walking neighborhood research
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"People walking their dogs are essentially patrolling their neighborhoods," says sociologist Nicolo Pinchak, lead author of the new study, published in Social Forces. "They see when things are not right, and when there are suspect outsiders in the area. It can be a crime deterrent." Not only that, but researchers noted that the friendly attitude of dog-walkers in neighborhoods makes them more likely to interact with others and get to know them.

It's not unusual for locals to get excited when they see their favorite neighborhood dog out on a walk, and approach the owner for a quick chat. Researchers say that familiarity with our neighborhood - and others living in it - makes it easier for us to identify outsiders or suspicious behavior. "Trust doesn't help neighborhoods as much if you don't have people out there on the streets noticing what is going on. That's what dog walking does," Pinchak says. "When people are out walking their dogs, they have conversations, they pet each other's dogs. Sometimes they know the dog's name and not even the owners. They learn what's going on and can spot potential problems." So, once again, we're left wondering what we would do without dogs - they really are our best friends!

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