Study Finds Neighborhoods With More Dogs Have Less Crime

According to a research, "Paws on the street" makes high-trust locations safer.

Choose a community where people trust one another and have lots of dogs to walk if you want to discover a safe place to live.

Choose an area where people trust one another and there are lots of dogs to walk if you want to discover a safe place to reside.

Researchers found that, at least in situations where inhabitants also had high levels of trust in one another, neighborhoods in Columbus, Ohio with more dogs had lower rates of homicide, robbery, and, to a lesser degree, aggravated assaults than regions with fewer dogs.

The study's primary author, Nicolo Pinchak, a PhD sociology student at The Ohio State University, says the findings show that dog walkers put additional "eyes on the street," which helps deter crime.

According to Pinchak, "people walking their dogs are practically patrolling their areas." "They notice when anything is off and when suspicious strangers are present. It could serve as a crime deterrence.

Recent publication of the work in the journal Social Forces.

According to research co-author and sociology professor Christopher Browning at Ohio State University, sociologists have long argued that a community's people might inhibit criminal activity by combining mutual trust with neighborhood surveillance.

There hasn't, however, been a reliable indicator of how neighborhood streets are monitored by inhabitants. One of the reasons Browning and his team opted to conduct this study was because they believed that dog walking effectively captured this.

For the study, researchers examined crime data for 595 census block groupings, or communities, in the Columbus region from 2014 to 2016.

They collected survey information from a marketing company that in 2013 questioned Columbus residents if they had dogs.

Finally, they measured neighborhood trust using information from Browning's Adolescent Health and Development in Context research. Residents were asked to assess how much they believed that "people on the streets can be trusted" in their communities as part of that survey.

Because it implies locals would assist one another when confronting a threat and have a feeling of "collective efficacy" that they can have a beneficial influence on their region, research has demonstrated that trust among neighbors is a crucial component of reducing crime, according to Pinchak.

The study's findings confirmed what was predicted: homicide, robbery, and aggravated assault rates were lower in high-trust neighborhoods than in low-trust neighborhoods.

However, when compared to communities with low numbers of dogs, those with high concentrations of dogs exhibited an extra decline in crime.

According to the study, areas with a high dog density in high-trust neighborhoods had robbery rates that were almost two-thirds lower and murder rates that were roughly half as high.

According to Pinchak, the dog walking is the true cause.

"Trust doesn't benefit neighborhoods as much if there aren't any on-the-ground observers of what's happening. That's what walking dogs does, according to Pinchak. And for this reason, dogs outperform cats and other non-walking pets in the battle against crime.

"When individuals take their dogs for a stroll, they chat and pat one another's pets. Even the owners don't always know the name of the dog. They become informed and are able to identify possible issues.

Results revealed that the trust program and dog walking together helped lower street crimes, which are those crimes like killings and robberies that frequently take place in open spaces like streets and sidewalks.

Regardless of how much neighbors trust one another, the study revealed that having more dogs in a community was also associated with less property crimes, such as burglaries, according to Pinchak.

That is because local trust and surveillance are not necessary as a component, as they are in street crimes, and barking and visible dogs can deter criminals from entering buildings where the dogs are found.

Even when a wide range of other characteristics connected to crime were taken into consideration, such as the percentage of young males in the area, residential instability, and socioeconomic position, the protective impact of dogs and trust was still shown.

Overall, the findings indicate that having a high level of confidence in your neighbors can help avoid crime, especially if you throw in a lot of dogs and dog walkers.

Dogs are beneficial to their human companions' health and happiness, according to a large body of studies, Pinchak added.

Our research provides another another benefit of dogs for humans.

Nicolo P. Pinchak, Christopher R. Browning, Bethany Boettner, Catherine A. Calder, and Jake Tarrence, "Paws on the Street: Neighborhood-Level Concentration of Households with Dogs and Urban Crime," Social Forces, 25 June 2022.

The study was funded by the Institute for Population Research at Ohio State, which includes Pinchak and Browning.

Bethany Boettner of Ohio State, Catherine Calder, and Jake Tarrence of the University of Texas at Austin served as other research co-authors.

The research on which the paper was based was funded by the National Science Foundation. The National Institute on Drug Abuse, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute on Child Health and Human Development, and the William T. Grant Foundation are the sponsors of the Adolescent Health and Development in Context project.