When I got pregnant with our first daughter, we were already the proud dog parents of a Golden Retriever and a Black Lab. Naturally, some of our friends instantly asked what we were doing with them, now that we were expecting. How would we raise a baby with all that dog hair?
While I have to admit that I sadly never found a PC answer to that question, I am proud to say that both of our daughters have grown to love Sandy and Jack. When they passed away, we opened our home to a pair of insane Chocolate Labs, which have the energy levels of seventeen Duracell bunnies. And we also got a cat, because we needed a calming influence in our lives. She has quickly become the absolute master of the house, needless to say.
I honestly believe our daughters are the kind and happy children they are because they have had a dog to play tea party with all their lives. And this is why I believe every child should grow up with a dog.
Children Will Learn How to Be More Responsible
Getting a dog gives you ample opportunity to teach your kids how to be more responsible. While they may not be able to take care of the pup alone, feeding them and going out on family walks is a great place to start.
Having a living being rely on them will quickly provide all the lessons nothing else can quite teach.
You need to make sure that your children don’t see any of these activities as a punishment. This is incredibly important, as your goal is to instill a habit that will serve them well for the rest of their lives, not awaken a sense of responsibility coupled with a negative emotion.
Let the kids do it on their own as well. If they make a mess while pouring dog food, let them, and show them how to clean it up. They need to perfect these routines themselves.
They Will Become More Empathetic
Children who grow up around dogs and cats are more emotionally intelligent and compassionate.
Empathy is often difficult to teach, but having an animal in your home can provide just the right environment for it. Pets will respond instinctively, and your child will very quickly learn what kinds of behaviors get rewarded, and which aren’t tolerated.
Dogs are especially good at teaching even the youngest of children how to be more kind. If you get a breed that is patient with kids, you can expect them to behave just like the dog from Peter Pan – a four-legged nanny.
Kids Will Develop Self-Esteem
The best thing about dogs is that they will love you no matter what. If you’ve had a bad day, if you don’t look your best, if you have failed at something: they will not judge you, and they will keep showing up for you every day.
Children who grow up with dogs thus develop more self-esteem, and feel more confident in their own skin. As they are exposed to unconditional love and affection every day, and as they are constantly being rewarded for the kindness they show, they will both understand the value of being a good person, and learn that they are enough, just the way they are.
Chilren Will Grow Into Healthier Adults
Exposure to the bacteria and allergens that naturally come with a pet will help a child’s immune system develop stronger defenses that will later make them more resilient as adults. So don’t worry about the kids kissing and hugging the dog. As long as you keep their paws clean and give them regular baths, your kids will only benefit from stuffing their faces full of dog hair.
Their Days Will Be Happier and Goofier
Finally, children who grow up with dogs laugh more often, this is a plain fact. Dogs are natural comedians, and they will love to get up to all kinds of antics with the kids.
As dogs also need to be walked regularly, the kids will need to walk with them, ensuring they get plenty of exercise. In fact, there is nothing better than taking the kids and the dog(s) out to the park and letting them run around for an hour. When you get home, naps are practically guaranteed.
All of this exercise and fun will boost your children’s serotonin levels, and help them enjoy their daily lives. They will rarely if ever get bored, as there is always someone around who is ready to play.
Getting your child a dog means getting them their best friend. And while there is a very difficult loss down the line, even that will teach an important lesson about the cycle of life.
Wrapping It Up
If you have the space in your home and heart, and if you are able to care for a dog, please consider getting your child one. There will be training and work involved, but once you all settle into a routine you enjoy, your life will become much more enjoyable, in unprecedented ways, and your child will be thankful forever.
Julia is the dog mom of two Chocolate Labs and the human mum of two girls. A cat of unidentified origin is also a part of the pack. As is of course her husband. She writes for Dogs Planet, sharing her passion for all things canine and Corgi.
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