It goes without saying that the dog is man’s best friend- they have been our loyal companions for thousands of years and become members of the family. It’s been said that every child should have a dog and I, being a proud dog owner, agree with this statement. I want to share with you why it’s important for kids to have a pet dog as they grow up, and have put together a list of some of the biggest reasons why every kid should have a dog.
1. Kids Who Have Pet Dogs Are More Active
Children who grow up with dogs in their home tend to spend more time engaging in physical activity. A study out of St George’s University of London found that, on average, children who own a pet dog spend 11 more minutes of their day- 562 minutes within a 7 day period- being physically active than children who don’t own dogs. The dog owners were also found to take 360 more steps per day- 4% more- than those who don’t own dogs. Similar studies have been previously done on adults, resulting in similar findings and proving that dog owners in general spend more time being active.
2. Dogs Improve Social Skills
Dogs can serve as important teachers to children who are developing their social and emotional skills. The benefits that come from children having a dog include reducing the risk of childhood depression, encouraging physical activity, and creating opportunities for meaningful social interaction. Successfully caring for a dog can also boost your child’s self-esteem, help him or her develop empathetic capabilities, reduce stress, and help them learn. In Autistic children, dogs prove to be even more helpful, as 31 Autistic students between the ages of 8 and 14 were tested in social groups either with or without dogs. It was found by Dr. Joanna Becker that the social groups that worked with the dogs showed larger improvements than the other group.
3. Kids with Dogs Have Stronger Immune Systems
There have been a number of recent studies that show that children who grow up with a dog might have stronger immune systems than children without dogs. These studies start as far back as a 2002 study by the Journal of the American Medical Association that showed that infants who were exposed to dogs during their first year had fewer allergies. Newer studies show that children with dogs tend to have less chance of developing asthma, allergies, and respiratory problems. According to the University of Michigan, dust from homes with dogs contains beneficial microbes that reshape and strengthen children’s immune systems to fight off allergens.
4. Dogs Offer Children Companionship
For many children, childhood is a confusing time that is full of emotions. Kids who have dogs in their household are known to feel less lonely, as dogs can provide a constant sense of companionship and care. When your child feels angry, lonely, or sad, he or she can turn to the family dog who, according to some studies, can relieve stress and provide comfort by having your child sit and pet or hug the dog.
5. Children Who Own Dogs Understand Responsibility
Owning a dog comes with responsibilities, and your child can benefit from having age appropriate pet responsibilities in relation to the family dog. Young children can benefit from notifying you when the dog needs food or water, or when he or she has left a mess that needs to be cleaned up. For young children, being tasked with pet responsibilities is seen as a privilege. Older children can help you feed, walk, and groom the family dog, as well as train it. Children can also benefit by putting their input into buying pet supplies such as a grooming tool for their dog. By giving your child pet responsibilities, you are teaching him or her to care for another being.
6. Dogs Strengthen Bonds Between Families
Dogs help to bring families closer together. Working together to care for a dog is a family job, and along with it comes taking the dog for walks and grooming it together, both of which allow the family time to bond with each other. Dogs will bond with each member of the family through one on one activities like walks in the park, a game of fetch, or riding in the car together. Once the dog has bonded with each member, the family’s shared love of the dog can increase the bond between the family members.
Did you enjoy this list? If so, tell me what you think in the comments below! If you really loved this list, feel free to share it with your friends and next time your child asks to bring a puppy home, remember that dogs get kids up and moving, reduce the chances of allergies and asthma, improve social skills, provide comfort, and help the whole family bond.