Having Dogs in a Neighborhood Makes It Safer

Medscape Staff

July 11, 2022

Crime is lower in neighborhoods where dog-walking neighbors' paw patrols keep an unofficial eye on things, according to statistics analyzed by sociologists from Ohio State University and the University of Texas at Austin.

What to know:

  • Dogs are good for the health and well-being of their human companions, but the socializing and neighborhood observations made by their owners while walking their dogs give canines a crime-fighting advantage over cats and other pets that do not need walking.

  • Neighborhoods with more dogs have lower rates of homicide, robbery, and, to a lesser extent, aggravated assaults compared with areas with fewer dogs, especially when residents also trusted one another at a high level.

  • Trust among neighbors is an important part of deterring crime because it suggests residents will help each other when facing a threat and have a sense of "collective efficacy" that they can have a positive impact on their area.

  • Among the high-trust neighborhoods, neighborhoods that are high in dog concentration had about two thirds the robbery rates of those that are low in dog concentration and about half the homicide rates.

  • People walking their dogs tend to meet and know other dog walkers and know more about what's going on nearby so they can recognize anything out of the ordinary while also putting consistent and regular "eyes on the street," creating an unofficial neighborhood patrol, which can discourage crime.

This is a summary of the article "Paws on the Street: Neighborhood-Level Concentration of Households with Dogs and Urban Crime" published by Social Forces on June 25, 2022. The full article can be found on academic.oup.com .

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