Dogs make great pets, but did you know that having a family dog can actually provide developmental benefits for very young children? According to a recent study done by the journal Pediatric Research, children from dog-owning households had a reduced likelihood of conduct problems compared with children without a dog.
Not all dogs fit a family, but there is one out there for you if you’re looking. It’s important to remember that when selecting a dog for your child, make sure to research the breeds and speak to the breeder about your family’s lifestyle so that you can ensure that the pet you get is the best fit for your whole family. You should also ask yourself if your child is ready for a dog.
Here are some of the many benefits of dogs being in children’s lives.
- Constant Companionship. Although childhood isn’t always easy, having a pet provides constant companionship through the ups and downs. Dogs can be a great source of comfort for kids – even when they’re coming to grips with difficult life lessons. Whenever kids feel sad, angry, or afraid, they can always turn to their pets. Petting and cuddling dogs has also been shown to relieve stress and help people relax.
- Increased Responsibility. Making sure that the family dog has food and water gives children a first glimpse of accountability and obligation. Children also learn empathy and compassion by caring for their pets, while developing a higher level of self-esteem by taking care of their pet-owning responsibilities.
- Less Stress. Petting a dog has been proven to lower cortisol levels in both the person and the pup. Also, research has found that children’s stress levels decrease when reading aloud to a dog.
- More physical activity. According to the study, dog ownership provides motivation and support for dog-facilitated physical activity. And children of dog-owning families who spend time with their pet dog may benefit in terms of increased physical activity, as well as their social and emotional development.
- Therapy. Studies have found that therapy dogs have an amazing impact on the quality of life and development of children with ASD. Some benefits include: a decrease in meltdowns, a decrease in anxiety, an increased willingness to try new things, and increases social interaction.
- Encouragement for Speaking. Dogs provide countless opportunities for kids to practice talking. Whether it’s calling the dog by its name, asking them to perform simple commands such as sit or stay, or just babbling, kids will be eager to get chatting with their new friend. Dogs can also help children with speech difficulties by keeping them relaxed and entertained. They’re often employed as the non-judgmental talking partner, making speech therapy less challenging and more fun for the little ones.
- Happier! Playing with a dog raises levels of serotonin and dopamine, which calm the mind and increase the mood.
If you can’t get a family dog, there are still ways for kids to realize these same benefits. Asking to look after a friend’s dog is a great way to expose kids to dogs and the joy that comes along with them. Another option is to volunteer at a local shelter. If you are looking for a safe place for your child’s furry companion to play and socialize during the school day, click HERE to learn more about Pets a Go Go’s doggie daycare services.