One of the major lifestyle debates for parents of young children is whether or not to get them a dog. Naturally, most parents help their children care for the dog at first and keep a closer eye on the two playing together in return for the dozens of rewards the kids will get from this early bonding experience. The incredible empathy of dogs allows them to detect your child’s mood and cheer them up when they’re down but dogs can also detect things like illness as well.
Of course, besides companionship, the most important things a dog can offer your child are learning experiences. Studies have shown that children who had dogs as babies and toddlers are even more prepared for school than their pet-free peers. Here are 5 of the most important things children can learn from their dogs.
1) Responsibility and Leadership
If your child is old enough to walk and communicate, they are old enough to start contributing to the care of the family dog. You may start with a single task like cleaning and refilling the water bowl and work your way up from there, but soon your child can take care of everything from food to training. Having a creature that relies on them and does what they say gives children an inherent understanding of responsibility and the challenges of leadership.
2) Empathy and Relationships
Dogs are very emotional creatures and so are children. In fact, dogs are like children in many ways, from their unerring desire for snacks to their boundless energy with which to chase toys. Bonding with their pets helps children to understand each other later on because they have seen the base happy nature of emotions. Children with a close relationship with their dogs are more likely to understand the favorites of others vs themselves and concepts like “friends even when you’re mad at each other”.
3) Patience and Self Control
Dogs are not always what we want them to be. Sometimes they are over-excited, jump too much, bark, slobber, and they usually can’t be included in board games no matter how cooperative they are. Learning these things teaches a young child patience, and learning to be patient with their dog even when it is being frustrating teaches self-control. Through training their dog, they also learn how a soft but firm voice and careful actions have a better effect that yelling, hitting, or tantruming ever could.
4) Inter-Species Biology
Children who have dogs before they go to school are more likely to understand basic biology and how that translates between animal species because they have spent a lot of time thinking about their dog. Activities like counting ribs or laying on their dog listening to heartbeats and tummy gurgles passively familiarizes children with the inner workings of another form of life, giving them a surprising bonus in later science classes.
5) Living an Active Lifestyle
In a world where it is becoming increasingly difficult to pull kids away from the TV and video games, having an active loving companion who always wants to play outside is incredibly beneficial for growing children. As part of their duties as responsible pet owners, your kids will head outside with balls and sticks at the ready and end up running around for at least a few extra minutes each day. Even if this doesn’t seem like a lot, a few more daily minutes of exercise stacks up throughout weeks and years of happy dog ownership and this habit will stick with them as they get older, leading to a more sporty and active lifestyle.
Dogs are wonderful companions for children at any age, but are especially attuned to bond and care for babies and toddlers. Older dogs introduced to a baby often take an adorable protective role while puppies raised with your toddlers will learn to tumble and snuggle like litter mates for the rest of their lives. However, perhaps the most valuable thing gained from the bond between children and dogs is what your kids learn as loving, responsible, and active pet owners starting from a very young age. For more fun news about dog ownership, contact us today!