Dog lovers understand many of the benefits of having a canine companion. They lift our spirits and console us when we're feeling sad. Dogs are our exercise partners and our road trip companions.
There have even been studies that suggest that having a dog can have physical health benefits as well. If dogs can do all these amazing things for adults, don't you think there are many benefits of raising your children with dogs as well?
Did you have a chance to read last week's column about dog ear mites and how to get rid of them naturally? It's an important subject for every pet owner to know about.
Adding a dog into your family when you already have a child can be a very scary thought. Puppies are a lot of work on their own, and if you pair them with a small child it's a full time job to keep your eyes on both of them. Adopting an adult dog may be a better option for your family, but it's a decision that you'll need to put a lot of thought into.
Although many potential pet parents like the idea of having a puppy, it may be more feasible to adopt a friendly and mellow adult dog if you have children.
I recommend watching these two videos beforehand:
Regardless of which puppy or dog that you select as your new family member, there are a lot of added responsibilities when it comes to teaching your dog and your child how to behave around each other. If you're up for the challenge, your entire family (including the four-legged members) will be happier in the long run.
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The Benefits of Raising Your Children with Dogs
Responsibility and Values
In my opinion, responsibility is the best thing that a dog can teach a child. Even the youngest member of your family can help with some small dog-related tasks. Young children can perform simple tasks like filling the dog's food and water with the help of a parent or helping to brush the dog.
Older children can take the dog for a walk, feed and water him by themselves and help with bathing and grooming. Of course, you'll be responsible for most of the doggy duties, but your children will be learning responsibility, nurturing and a love of animals through your example.
By pitching in with the family pet your child will realize the importance of taking care of those that cannot take care of themselves. They will learn the importance of essential needs like food, shelter and exercise. By allowing your children to grow up with a dog you will be showing them first hand how to care for another living being.
Whether the studies are true or not, owning a dog will have a positive effect on your child's health. Dogs force us to be more active. They need to be taken on walks and someone has to play with them everyday.
If your child is old enough to a throw a ball or run around the yard, he's old enough to help your dog get some exercise. Older children may be able to take the family pet for a jog around the block, but the younger ones can help in more subtle ways.
Typically dogs tend to follow children around – it's their protective instinct. Playing in the yard may not seem like a lot of exercise to you, but it's great for your dog and your kids. Exercise doesn't need to be strenuous. It can be as simple as your child throwing a ball and walking around the yard with your dog.
If children are raised with dogs, their canine companion is often their first friend – and their best friend. Dogs love us unconditionally. One of the most important things that we can teach our children is the strength of unconditional love, and dogs can be a great resource for that.
A dog can be a shoulder to cry on for a child that is dealing with a loss, feeling scared or alone, struggling in school or any other difficult situation. Dogs don't judge, and that can be very important comfort for children who are struggling through a hard time.
Forming a bond with a dog teaches a child how to be a friend. If they don't treat the dog well he will not want to spend time with them. Your child will learn to respect others and be empathetic towards the needs and feelings of their friends.
Dogs may not be able to speak our language but they can certainly communicate. Your child will need to learn some of the silent cues given by canines to understand their feelings and their needs.
Forming a friendship with a dog is much easier than forming a relationship with a human. If your child's first friend is a dog, it will give him the confidence he needs to form lasting relationships with other humans.
Dogs Make Us Happy
It's that simple – dogs make us happy. At the end of the day, what is it that parents want for their children? They want them to be happy and healthy, and a dog can help with both of those things.
While playing in the yard and running around are fun, all it really takes to make a child happy is the presence of a dog. Dogs have a way of making all of us smile. They can calm even the most upset child. Having a dog around the house will lift everyone's spirits, and that will be a huge benefit for your child.
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