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More Neighborhood Dogs Could Mean Less Crime

Millennial black couple walking on sidewalk through neighborhood with white labradoodle on leash

The next time you walk around your neighborhood, count how many folks you see walking dogs. The more the merrier as you realize they are your neighborhood watch group, and their presence has been shown to cut down on crime.

“People walking their dogs are essentially patrolling their neighborhoods,” says Nicolo Pinchak, lead author of a study out of The Ohio State University that considered crime rates in neighborhoods with dogs.

How the study was conducted

The study was a threefold process.

  1. Researchers evaluated 2014-16 crime data for 595 census block groups in Columbus, Ohio

  2. They then measured 2013 data from a marketing firm that asked residents if they were dog owners.

  3. The final step used data from the Adolescent Health and Development in Context study. One question asked if residents agreed with the statement “people on the streets can be trusted” in their respective neighborhoods.

The Conclusion

Researchers found that, overall, communities are safer when people have more trust in their neighbors. Property crimes and burglaries drop off in neighborhoods with more dogs – regardless of how much neighbors trust each other. This is due to dogs barking and presenting a visible threat to would-be-burglars.

However, crime drops even further in communities with high levels of trust and more dogs. In fact, trusting neighborhoods with more dogs cut their robbery rate by a third and their homicide rate in half.

“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. And that’s why dogs have a crime-fighting advantage over cats and other pets that don’t need walking.

“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.”

“There has already been a lot of research that shows dogs are good for the health and well-being of their human companions,” Pinchak concludes. “Our study adds another reason why dogs are good for us.”




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