Before I had my daughter, my pets were my children. I spoil them and treat them like humans. To be honest, after having my daughter that hasn’t changed one bit. (In my head I’m a mother of 4, to everyone else I’m a first time mother of 1. Pfft!) People would always ask me how I was going to handle bringing my child around our pets and how I would keep them from getting germs on her. The answer is plain and simple: I don’t.
There are so many benefits of growing up with a dog, I couldn’t be happier to share this information! Dogs are such a special part of a family. They bring so much joy and love to the household every single day, but there are a ton of other blessings they contribute to as well.
Companionship. If dogs are known for being one thing it’s loyal. Dogs teach our kids at a young age what it’s like to have constant companionship and a loyal friend. They show us what it feels like to be loved unconditionally. They provide a calming nonjudgmental presence which allows our kids to feel comfortable expressing themselves. It is very common to find kids talking to their dogs, which is most likely because our dogs are always willing to listen and never judge us. We can express how we are feeling without any fears at all. This is more beneficial to kids than talking to a doll or an imaginary friend because dogs are actual living breathing things who will react to us talking and provide physical comfort. This allows these skills of expression and acceptance to be more transferrable to the real world. This also helps to boost self-esteem, confidence and helps with anxiety and depression as well.
Healthier. Several studies show that kids raised in a household where they have close contact with a dog are known to have a reduced risk of allergies, get sick less often, have fewer respiratory problems, fewer cardiovascular problems, fewer ear infections and fewer cases of eczema. Wow! Who knew all of that slobber and pet dander could be so helpful! The early exposure to all of that along with the microbes your pet carries in from outside helps build your babies developing immune system, and in the end, they are much more equipped to live a healthier life.
Nurturing. Dogs are dependent upon us. They need us to care for them and love them. Dogs provide kids with an opportunity to nurture and care for another living thing. Nurturing is not a skill we are born with, nor can we learn it just from being nurtured ourselves. We need something to nurture ourselves in order to learn how to care for and provide for others. Dogs give kids that opportunity to learn and grow as a loving caregiver.
Responsibility. Dogs are a lot of work. They require a lot of time and attention. They need to be fed, groomed, exercised, loved, and the list goes on and on! All of these requirements give kids the opportunity to learn about responsibility, dependability, commitment and patience. There are many ways to teach our children these lessons, and I recommend doing all of them! From giving them chores to learning why it’s important to show up to school on time, they are all important lessons to learn because responsibility is a very diverse and complex topic. Dogs, however, provide an opportunity for them to learn about responsibility and how it can affect others. We love our dogs and want them to be healthy and happy, so if we forgot to feed them or didn’t get around to playing with them for a few days, the outcome of that would be really terrible. This helps our kids to understand in a way that they can relate to and actually care about.
Active Lifestyle. Kids that grow up with a dog are likely to live a more active lifestyle. Dogs need a lot of exercise, which provides the opportunity for their owners to get more exercise as well! Aside from the daily dog walks, owners are more likely to partake in outdoor activities such as hiking, running, swimming and camping. These are all activities that are fun to do with your pet and encourage a more healthy and active lifestyle.
Sibling Bonding. Siblings will always have their conflicts, that’s just how it goes. Having a dog in the house, however, is known to help with sibling bonding. Siblings tend to grow closer when they share a common love for something such as a pet. They are able to share responsibilities and enjoy the fun times together when they play with the dog, walk the dog, etc. This is also known to reduce jealousy and rivalry towards one another.
I hope this provides some inspiration to you who are considering bringing a dog into your family, and also to the dog owners out there to safely allow your kids and pets to form a bond. The benefits are endless and can really provide a positive impact on your child’s life. Of course, not all dogs are kid-friendly and kids also need to be taught how to properly treat animals. I’m not going to get into the nitty gritty of a disclaimer/warning regarding pets and kids because I am assuming we all know the risks and the benefits and will do proper research before shoving our kids in front of random dogs to obtain microbes and dander. 🙂