You know it makes sense to let your child grow up with a special pet, like a dog, don’t you? You understand instinctively that your child will benefit from the experience. You may not be sure of exactly how, but you just know there are benefits of having a dog for a child.
Kids who play with pets are healthier. They tend to have fewer allergies and a lessened chance of developing asthma, for example. The obvious benefit of having a dog is that your child will get out more often, instead of being cooped up inside playing video games.
This article will list 5 of the greatest benefits to be gained by your child from having a pet dog. Children immediately think only of the fun aspect. That is definitely important too. However, there are many deeper, more important benefits to be gained.
Here are 5 tremendous, unexpected benefits of having a dog for a child:
1 – A dog can reduce stress and increase happiness
When a child plays with a dog, and when the dog interacts appropriately with the child in response, a hormone known as oxytocin is stimulated. This reduces anxiety and stress. It soothes and comforts the child, and probably does the same for the dog too.
In turn, this leads to a happier, more responsive child. When the mind is free from anxiety, a child will perform any task much better. Never worry about your child hugging the pet dog. As long as the dog doesn’t mind, it’s a good thing.
Playing and hugging a pet dog lowers cortisone levels in both the child and the dog. The levels of dopamine and serotonin are raised, which help to calm the mind and soothe any stress and anxiety away.
2 – A dog can promote emotional development in your child
When a pet dog is playful and always ready to have fun, your child will feel happier with an uplifted mood. This provides your child with a feeling of being wanted and loved. It isn’t that they don’t feel that from their parents or siblings. It’s just that the bond with a dog is different and special.
In fact, this feeling of being wanted and loved that they get from a dog can transfer to the child’s parents and siblings. This can make the whole family stronger and more confident as a result.
Children who lack self-confidence can develop an increased confidence level as a result of playing and interacting with a pet dog. Their self-esteem can develop more positively, along with their sense of commitment and responsibility.
3 – A dog can help with managing behavioral problems in your child
If your child is hyperactive and overly aggressive, playing with a dog can calm them down considerably. A dog can even help children with special needs who have behavioral problems.
The act of taking care of a dog teaches a level of discipline to a child. This can turn a spiteful, bad-tempered child into a compassionate and gentle child. A dog can even help children with autism who often lack social skills. Autistic children can often exhibit behavioral problems.
A study conducted by Gretchen Carlisle, a research fellow at the Research Center for Human-Animal Interaction at the University of Missouri, found that an autistic child has increased social skills when a dog shares their home.
She says that children who grow up with a dog are, “…more likely to engage in behaviors, such as introducing themselves, asking for information, or responding to other people’s questions.”
4 – A dog can make your child a more compassionate person
There have been many studies that show that children growing up with a pet dog exhibit greater compassion on the whole than children who do not. Children learn at an early age that the dog needs to be taken care of. It needs to be watered, fed, taken out for toilet needs and exercise, etc.
Your child will usually be very keen to help in looking after a pet dog. This taking care of others can often be transferred to human family members too. They will often show more empathy to others as a result of understanding that the family pet dog needs to be cared for.
5 – A dog can help your child develop useful skills
Any child who grows up with a dog will usually spend a lot of time with the animal. This tends to help them develop a variety of useful skills. These include certain parental skills, for tending to a dog’s needs is not too different from tending to the needs of a baby, something they will likely need later in life.
The child will tend to become more confident through looking after a dog. And the dog, in turn, will never judge the child, and will always be receptive to whatever (within reason) the child wants to do.
One surprising skill that a child can develop through being around a dog is reading skills. If a child reads out loud to a dog, they will find a keen listener. The dog will not understand what is happening, but she will know that all the child’s attention is on her. She will like that.
As a result, the child’s reading abilities will improve. Their speech fluency will get better, as well as a reduction in stage fright – the fear of standing up in class and reading aloud to their classmates.
There are many other benefits of having a dog for a child growing up. A dog can provide stability in a child’s home experience. They can make a child feel safe if bullying is a problem in their neighborhood.
They can make young boys understand that being gentle and affectionate isn’t sissy. A big strong dog can show great affection, yet still be able to instill fear into an intruder, for example.
Growing up with a dog will teach your child all kinds of useful life lessons that they will not always be able to learn elsewhere. But rather than having a dog to teach your child the things you don’t have time for, see the benefits of having a dog for a child as an extremely valuable supplement to the teaching you are able to provide your child with!