Dogs Help Children Become Exceptional Adults
Pet ownership has been proven to result in many physical and mental health benefits for people of all ages. Children can gain even more benefits from being raised with pets. In this blog from Happy Go Healthy, you can learn more about why it’s good to raise your children with a dog.
1. Dogs Can Make Children Healthier
Just a few years ago, parents were staging all-out wars on germs with lots of antibiotics. Before they even thought about bringing their new bundle of joy home, they’d disinfect everything, including the kitchen sink. But now we’ve figured out that too much disinfecting can actually make children more susceptible to illness. When our bodies are exposed to a less diverse mix of germs, they have less immunity to the germs that make us sick. Healthy dogs with healthy immune systems act as beneficial probiotics for the people who live in the home. This usually means that children with pets will get sick less often and less severely than kids who live in homes with no pets.
2. Dogs Can Make Children More Resistant to Allergies
It used to be thought that having a dog in the home contributed to children’s allergies. However, modern research now indicates dogs and cats actually lower a child’s chance of becoming allergic to pets by up to 33 percent!
While dog dander is often a trigger for those with allergies, studies show that growing up with a dog makes children less likely to develop allergies. These benefits can even start during gestation! The journal Microbiome published a study in 2017 that found a bacterial exchange occurred between women who lived with pets during pregnancy and their children. This was true even if the pet was not in the home after the birth of the child.
3. Caring for Dogs Increases Your Child’s Emotional Intelligence
Caring for pets is a perfect way to teach children emotional intelligence. Similar to an Intelligence Quotient (IQ), the Emotional Quotient (EQ) represents the level of empathy and ability to understand other people and connect with them. According to kindergarten teachers, EQ is the most important factor in a child’s success, even more than their intelligence or their ability to read or hold a pencil. Emotional intelligence can be nurtured and grown, and a loving pet is a perfect way to do it.
One of the foundations of EQ is empathy, and parents should start teaching and modeling it in early childhood. When a child cares for a pet, it draws them out of their self-focused world. Children will also learn how to read nonverbal cues when dealing with their pet. This is another important factor in gaining empathy.
4. Caring for Dogs Teaches Responsibility, Increases Self-Esteem
Feeding, walking, and other dog-related chores can teach your child invaluable lessons about responsibility. You can start small with younger kids. Just teaching them how to feed the dog or give it treats will go a long way to helping your child feel they are contributing to the family and increasing their self-esteem.
Younger Children Can:
- Tell a parent or older sibling when the dog’s water bowl needs to be refilled.
- Help dry the dog’s food dish after it’s been washed.
- Help put away the dog’s toys at the end of the day.
- Help brush the dog.
Older Children Can:
- Play fetch or otherwise exercise the dog. When your kids roll around or run with your dog, it will give them both great exercise, and strengthen the bond between them.
- Train the dog. Take a dog training class with your child or look for a dog training class for kids.
- Walk the dog. Make sure your child knows how to hook the leash onto the collar securely, and that the dog listens to their commands. Always make sure they have enough poop bags and that they always use them.
Children who take part in caring for dogs learn what it feels like to have another living creature relying on them, and it teaches responsibility in a way not much else can. Caring for a dog teaches the importance of commitment and consistency, as well as building self-confidence. When a child sees the happiness and gratitude of their dog —and the encouragement of their parents — they will gain self-confidence and self-esteem that will last a lifetime.
5. Dogs Can Help Keep Your Family Safe
Most dogs have the natural instinct to protect their home and family. While this can be frustrating if the dog barks like crazy every time someone walks by, this protectiveness can be reassuring when you let your children play outside. Depending on your neighborhood, you may be hesitant to let your children walk the dog by themselves, but you’ll probably want them to be able to play outside by themselves. Having them in a fenced in backyard with the family dog will help keep them safe.
A dog’s amazing sense of smell and hearing allows them to detect things people can’t and alert them to possible danger. Even an older, smaller dog can be an effective home security system.
Feed Your Family Dog Happy Go Healthy for Added Nutrition
Dogs of all ages can be great companions for your children. Some people think it’s good to get a puppy for their young child so they can grow up together. But even middle-aged or senior dogs can be great pets for your kids. No matter your dog’s age, you’ll want to do all you can to keep them happy and healthy for years to come.
Dogs love Happy Go Healthy’s Joint and Skin Support Supplement. It is a mess-free, science-backed supplement that’s easy for kids to feed to their furry friend. For more information, give us a call at (513) 655-5445.