Having a dog as a pet, should have a positive impact for the whole family, especially for the children. A family dog can grow to be a true friend and companion for life, for a child. There are many reasons why kids need a dog including the fact that a pet lends them unconditional love and comfort that they will never forget.
If you had a dog in your family when you were a child, you will understand how important a dog can be in helping children to grow and develop. You will also remember the strong bond that you formed with your childhood canine companion.
“Hang on, aren’t dogs dirty and dangerous, and not to be trusted around children?” some may argue.
It is true that a dog should never be left alone with a very young child, unsupervised. Though, it is not because dogs are dangerous wild animals. Dogs can be excitable at best, and unpredictable if they feel under threat.
The question remains about why kids need a dog. At the end of the day, only the adults of the family can decide whether a dog is the right choice. Here are just some of the reasons why kids need a dog to help you decide if a family pooch is the right idea for your family.
RELATED PODCAST: How Kids and Dogs Help Each Other
12 Reasons Why Kids Need a Dog
Studies in Finland give us positive results (PDF). They have shown that babies who are around dogs in their first year of life, have less general illnesses. Such children also have fewer respiratory tract infections and ear infection, than those who don’t have pets.
Evidence showed us that children around pets need fewer antibiotics too. The exposure to more bacteria, brought into the home by the dog, seems to help build up baby’s immune system.
2. Social Skills
Owning a pet will also enhance your child's self esteem (PDF) and social skills. This is one of the most beneficial reasons why kids need a dog It helps to give them more traditional values, better academic achievement and greater respect for their parents.
3. Reading Skills
Most children will happily play games with the family pet dog, but did you know they can be a great reading buddy too. A pooch will sit for hours next to a child while they read, never correcting or interrupting.
Research indicates that reading to dogs is a great way for encouraging your child to read. The result of this improves their literacy skills, and their confidence in heaps and bounds.
Having a pet dog helps to decrease those stress levels, even in children. Their pet dog is a trusted friend they can talk to, and stroke, and pooch will sit and listen. Being able to confide in their dog is also believed to help with traumatic events.
Children with dogs tend to get more exercise than children with no dogs, especially if they go on the walks as well. This is one of the most beneficial reasons why kids need a dog nowadays. With all of the video games and television that children are exposed to, a pet gives them a good reason to get up, get outside and move around.
6. Specialist Abilities
Some dogs train more easily, to become specialist companions for children born with certain conditions. Such a dog makes a great difference to lives of children with autism, blindness or deafness. Dogs make great loyal companions, and it helps these children develop more confidence.
Pets, especially dogs, are a great way for your child to learn how to be empathic to others. They learn to read the body language of their dog's needs. Picking up on pooch's emotions, means they will know when he fretting.
Knowing signs of when he's hungry. Understanding when he needs them, such as if a loud noise scares him. Identifying these needs can help the child to develop an understanding of human feelings. This can only serve to make a more caring adult.
8. Patience and Determination
If your child is watching you train your puppy, they will soon realize that good behavior doesn’t just happen. It takes time to develop, along with a good deal of patience. This can help a child identify with their own behavior, learning that certain things are unacceptable.
One major advantage of owning a dog, is the companionship they provide. This can be a crucial element for a child, as they grow up side by side. An only child may even see the dog as their sibling, building upon a special relationship together. This way. they know that they will never be alone.
10. Body Language
A child with a pet dog will grow up to learn more about social cues. Whilst a dog cannot communicate through spoken language, children and pets have an understanding of each other.
They communicate through behavior and body language. This is a helpful development as a child grows into adulthood. Learning through pooch, how to read the subtleties of behavioral interactions.
11. Family Bonding
Dog’s are pack animals by nature, so it’s not surprising that they may see their human family as their pack. It’s much the same for a child growing up. Humans are social creatures too.
We quickly learn to trust the people who are in our lives every day. That same bond will develop with the family pet dog. He will feel as if he is a part of the child's family.
RECOMMENDED: How To Teach Kids To Behave Around Dogs
All this sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?
Whilst each of these points are great reasons for your family to own a pet, let’s not forget that a dog needs to spend time with the adults too. With good handling on your part, your pet dog will reflect that behavior tenfold. Your family pet dog needs discipline training, so it understands the boundaries. Just as you would teach your child.
Training pooch to share a toy, is worth the investment that it will take in effort. After all, you would teach your child the skill of sharing. Some dogs will take to it with no difficulty whatsoever. Much depends on your dog’s own temperament.
Dogs are individual characters, with their own set of unique traits. It’s hard to know what type of temperament a dog will develop when choosing it as a puppy. Invest the time in training it to fit in with the family it will be with for the rest of its life.
It’s never too late to introduce a pet dog into the family. In an older child, it will help facilitate a non-judgemental friendship. Crucial to children growing up in a world of social media.
Having a pet will show them that their animal friend is loyal no matter what. This will help increase a positive outlook in their own attitude towards others. Even schools are getting into the game of including pets in the classroom (PDF).
Dogs are proving to have a calming effect on criminals in prisons. Hardened adults are changing their negative outlook on life, simply through the companionship of a dog. Imagine then how good that friendship can be for a child, who is learning to find their way in life.
A pet is for life, but a dog’s life is not a long one. That is about the only negative aspect, for a child growing up alongside a dog. They should spend a good decade together. Loyal companionship is never forgotten. Your child will remember their first pet, for as long as they themselves live.