- Dogs, which are said to be a man’s best friend, can offer children a number of benefits, even in early childhood.
- One study found that children who spend time with a family pet develop empathy, responsibility, and better self-esteem.
- Children also benefit from the physical exercise that comes with the regular walking of a dog.
Everyone knows that dogs make excellent pets. But can a family dog provide benefits for the development of very young children? A new study published in the journal Pediatric research Say yes. .
Focusing mainly on increasing physical activity among children whose families have dogs compared to households without pets, the study found a number of other benefits of owning a dog.
According to Amy Morin, LCSW, psychotherapist and presenter of Podcast for mentally strong people , “Helping the family take care of a dog can help young children feel part of the team. They may feel empowered when they see that they are able to help care for an animal by helping to feed or walk the dog. They can also feel better about themselves when they can help with the responsibilities of caring for a pet. «
The advantages of having a dog
The following are just a few of the benefits of owning a dog that the study highlighted:
- A greater responsibility . Dogs have many needs, regardless of the breed you choose. They need to be fed and given to drink daily, play with them and walk. All of these are tasks that even young children can do or can do with adult supervision. Many families choose to make pet care a regular part of their children’s daily chores.
- Sense of identity and independence . When a child grows up with a dog, that child will undoubtedly develop a bond with the dog that is unique to any other member of the family. This can foster a sense of identity in the child.
- Unconditional love and loyalty . There are simply not many other pets as loyal as a dog. Your children will easily see this in the behavior of your pet and therefore can live their life this way naturally.
- Improving self-esteem . There is no fear of rejection when it comes to a dog! At a time when children are finding their way into the world and are probably facing the first difficult relationships, a dog that is always happy to see them can provide such a much needed boost of self-esteem.
- A greater sense of empathy . With pets comes a lot of happiness, of course, but also sadness and even losses sometimes. Walking with a pet during their relatively short life can be an amazing exercise in empathy and coping with pain.
- More physical activity . According to the study, owning a dog provides motivation and support for facilitated physical activity for him dog . Children of families who have dogs who spend time with their pets can also benefit from increased physical activity. as well as their social and emotional development.
«Dogs are a new socializing experience for babies and children,» says Laurice Wardini, dog trainer and founder of PuppyWiki. «Similar to how important it is to socialize dogs with different new experiences, it’s a great idea to socialize children with different life experiences.»
How children and dogs can stay safe together
What about dogs, exactly?
In short, it all comes down to temperament, says Wardini. “Dogs are friendly; For the most part, they are stupid, funny and energetic, just like children. There really is no better combination than a baby and a puppy, which is why there are so many intrinsic benefits of having a small baby dog. «
«Helping the family take care of a dog can help young children feel part of the team. They may feel empowered when they see that they can help care for an animal by helping to feed or walk the dog. They can also feel better about themselves. when I can help with the responsibilities of caring for a pet. «
– AMY MORIN, LCSW
Disadvantages of having a dog
Of course, nothing comes without a price, and owning a dog is no different. Families considering owning a dog should understand the cost of owning a dog. In fact, it is estimated that the average American family spend between $ 1,400 and $ 4,300 Every year to have a dog, and that does not include the cost of the dog itself, which can often cost several thousand dollars if you buy it from a reputable breeder. .
Moreover, dogs can be a hand, especially if you have a puppy, says Wardini. Yes Michal McCracken , dog trainer and founder of Pet School Academy In Wellington, New Zealand, he agrees and says, “For parents, having a dog is a huge responsibility. Adding a dog to the family is like having a newborn baby initially, with things like interrupted sleep, potty training, behavior training, and assimilating the puppy into family life and routines. »
Dogs can be quite mischievous, can run and have problems or can be injured and need constant attention. And older or adopted dogs can’t always adapt well to being around young children.
Of course, all these small disadvantages can be overcome, and most dog owners agree that investing time and effort in a dog is well worth it. But what about the dogs that everyone loves? And what makes them especially good for children?
What can you do if you can’t have a dog?
The benefits of having a dog (empathy, responsibility, exercise) are hard to deny, But what should parents do if they simply can’t get a dog but want their own children to get the same benefits? «Asking friends and neighbors to take care of dogs is a great way to expose children to dogs and the joy that comes with it, without full-time responsibility or financial pressure,» says McCracken.
Another option is to volunteer at a local animal shelter or just spend time in parks where other families play with their dogs. Most owners are more than happy to let their children pet their dogs, but it’s important to remember to ask in advance.
What does this mean for you?
If you are unsure about adding a fur family member, know that a family dog is definitely a great match for kids. If your children are very young or have no experience with animals, a puppy could be a better match, simply because it will not be afraid of children or have too many habits. It can be a lot of work ahead, but if you have a dog, it will probably pay off as your children grow up.