Dogs are great companions. They’ve always offered loyalty, love, and unwavering friendship; but now, there may be another benefit to our canine pals. Researchers at Ohio State University discovered that neighborhoods with more dogs have less violent crime—homicide, robbery and, to a lesser extent, aggravated assaults. The paper was recently published in Social Forces, and it offers insight into how safety-promoting trust is built in communities.
The researcher built off of Jane Jacob‘s “natural surveillance” or “eyes on the street” concepts. She postulated that the more eyes there are readily roving about a neighborhood, the easier it is to maintain order and safety through this informal surveillance. The researchers behind the new paper wanted to explore how this surveillance happens, and dog walking seemed like the obvious choice. “People walking their dogs are essentially patrolling their neighborhoods,” study author Nicolo Pinchak said in a statement. “They see when things are not right, and when there are suspect outsiders in the area. It can be a crime deterrent.”
Research has demonstrated trust among neighbors helps deter crime, as people are more likely to care and get involved. The team found that in neighborhoods were residents trust one another, more dogs meant less crime. This was even true in lower trust areas. “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 said. “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.” While the exact reasons behind why the presence of dogs in a neighborhood correlates with lower crime are yet unsure, Fido is surely a good guardian.
More dogs in a neighborhood might help reduce crime, experts say, by getting people out and about.
h/t: [Science Alert]