If you live in a neighbourhood with a lot of dogs, then stop grumbling about the barks and growls because what you call noise is actually keeping you safe. Here’s how.
A recent study carried out in Columbus says that localities with more dogs had lower rates of assaults, robbery and other crimes compared to areas with fewer dogs.
The results of the research were published in the journal Social Forces, and it put forward the fact that dog walkers and owners walking their dogs contributed to more “eyes on the street,” which can actually discourage crime in the area.
The lead author of the study and a doctoral student in sociology at The Ohio State University, Mr. Nicolo Pinchak gave his statement as follows, “Dog walkers or dog owners who walk their dogs regularly on streets and surroundings in their locality are basically patrolling their neighbourhoods.”
As a dog parent I believe Mr. Pinchak is absolutely right. When we walk our dogs, we get the opportunity to see the things that are unusual, and when there are strangers or suspect outsiders in the area, we along with our dogs can be a crime deterrent.
Indeed, mutual understanding among residents and dogs in a neighbourhood can keep criminals at bay.
A professor of sociology at Ohio State, Mr. Christopher Browning, acknowledges the fact and says, “Dog walking probably captures this idea of local survelliance pretty well, and due to this reason we decided to do this research.”
During the research, the scholars collected data about neighbourhoods with dogs, the mutual trust among residents and statistics of crimes in the areas.
Initially, they investigated the statistics of crime between the year 2014 – 2016 for approximately 595 census block groups which is the equivalent of localities in the Columbus area.
Then, from a marketing firm, they obtained survey data about Columbus residents if they had a dog in their residence.
And, finally, the data obtained from the Adolescent Health and Development in Context study, a centre run by Mr. Christopher Browning, was used to calculate trust in individual localities.
The data included survey sheets where the residents provided ratings based on their trust of people on the streets in their neighbourhoods.
Sociologists say that trust among neighbors is an important part of preventing crime, as residents with a sense of collective understanding will help each other better when facing a threat, and result in a favourable impact on the neighbourhood.
Based on the results of the research study, the scholars concluded that neighbourhoods with high levels of trust amongst residents had lower levels of murder, thefts, and assaults when compared to other neighbourhoods.
However, the researchers further added that, in these high-trust neighbourhoods, the ones with more number of dogs showed an additional dip in crime compared to those with low number of dogs.
The ‘trust factor’ alone doesn’t help residents if you don’t have eyes out there on the streets observing what’s going on. This is actually where dog walking comes in.
Unlike cats and other pets that don’t need walking, dogs always prove to be an advantage when it comes to fighting crime. When people walk their dogs in the outdoors, they talk to other dog walkers and pet each other’s dogs. They learn more about their neighbourhood and so they are able to spot potential problems.
Accordingly, statistics showed that the combination of dog-walking and shared trust among neighbours effectively benefitted in reducing crimes like kidnapping, abuse and assaults, theft, homicides, etc. that are likely to happen on streets and sidewalks.
The research study pinpointed that more dogs in a locality was found to be useful and related to fewer property crimes, like burglaries and assaults, irrespective of the trust among the people in a neighbourhood.
Barking of dogs can keep miscreants away from buildings and apartments even when the dogs are not visible. And, when the dogs are in sight, naturally, the criminals will think twice before doing something wrong.
So, this is how the neighbourhood trust and surveillance may not be needed as a factor to deter crimes because the watchful and cautious creature – dogs are performing the action.
The natural defence characteristic of dogs provides a protective effect while guarding neighbourhoods. This effect was found in dogs even when certain other factors related to crimes were analysed, for instance, the ratio of boys in the area, multiple household relocations, and social disorganizations.
To sum up, the conclusions of the research suggest that having a lot of trust in your neighbours can be quite helpful in preventing crime – especially if you maximize the number of dogs and dog walkers.
Many researches done in the past have shown that dogs are good for our health and well-being, and now this particular study gives us one more reason to why dogs are good for us.