I’m a bit biased, here, because we are all huge dog people at my house. Sometimes, I appreciate the company of guest pup more than a guest. Regardless of my love for four-legged friends, there are proven advantages to adding a pooch to your family.
They Make Us Healthier
We, as parents, all strive for our children to be healthy. Many are concerned about pet dander, or dirt tracked through the house. The American Academy of Pediatrics found that infants living in households with dogs are generally healthier! Babies raised in families with dogs are less likely to get allergies and asthma. In addition, some studies have shown fewer colds and ear infections in the first year of life for the same reason.
Pet owners, on average, have lower blood pressure and are less likely to get heart disease. Why? Dogs require exercise. Dog owners walk and play more than people who don’t have dogs. It’s pretty easy to see why owning a dog is a fantastic method of keeping kids active. Active kids are healthy kids!
Finally, they’re bred to reduce stress. Stress is linked to a plethora of awful, chronic conditions, such as depression and Alzheimer’s. A good family dog can sense tension, and will do everything in their power to turn your frown upside-down. My dog flips upside down and cocks her head to the side. It’s impossible not to giggle.
They Teach Responsibility
Having to clean up after, feed, and water a dog provides a sense of importance kids can’t get anywhere else. While homework and chores teach some form of responsibility, it doesn’t have quite the same effect. Pets are completely reliant on their humans to satisfy their needs. There is a direct and immediate correlation to be made.
They Teach Compassion and Patience
Dogs are intelligent and intuitive, which makes them a perfect playmate for children. They don’t hold grudges. They’re never discriminatory and welcome new human playmates. With tails wagging and paws prancing, even the most isolated child feels appreciated.
Dogs interpret and feel emotion. They become literal friends to children. By learning how to socialize with a dog, children learn how to play and interact with peers, too. Contrary to popular belief, most dogs are not always interested in playing, and occasionally want to be left alone. Children learn social cues that are vital to successfully navigating life. Likewise, dogs teach them to seek what they need when they’re feeling sad. They’ll be drawn to their pet and seek out comfort.
Dogs can be incredibly annoying. They chew on things, they slobber, they give kisses when least expected, and, without training they’ll destroy a few things, too. This gives children an opportunity to practice restraint. It will teach them that frustration can’t always be met with anger or aggression. Instead, they need to teach the dog which behaviors are problematic, and teach the proper alternative.
Your child will witness a dog’s entire life-cycle. While devastating, grieving a pet teaches an invaluable lesson about loss. Passing is a part of life. It’s impossible to avoid and difficult to understand. The expectation of a relatively short life can brace children for the inevitable.
It sounds much more depressing than it is; it’s bittersweet. If I could shield my kids from every hurt in life I would. I can’t, so instead I’ll do what I can to prepare them for it.
They Foster Confidence
My local library has regular “read to the dog” sessions, because it encourages children to move past their comfort zones with a companion guaranteed to be compassionate and loving in return. They’ll read more. They’ll sing more. They’ll practice new skills and voice emotion more.
Finally, They’re Fun
Dogs are just fun. If you have never run around or played fetch with a pooch, I’d recommend it. They’re hilarious and adorable. Every dog has a unique personality that shines.
Dogs are therapeutic at any age, but there is one fact we know for sure: The sooner, the better. I strongly recommend a rescue pup. You can save a life and enrich your own. However you go about it, start your search for the perfect family friend today.