5 Advantages for Kids Who Grow Up With Dogs

Nearly every child at some point begs their parents for a puppy. As parents, we can’t help but think of all of the added chores and financial obligations that come with owning a pet. But did you know it can actually benefit the health and development of your kids? Here are a few very important reasons why you should consider owning a dog.

 

1. A Life Lesson in Responsibility

Looking for an opportunity to teach your child an important life lesson? Taking care of a living being is different than being responsible for unloading the dishwasher. From walking, bathing, feeding, and picking up after - these are all tasks that your child could do for the household pet.

 

2. Kids Who Grow Up With Dogs are Healthier

  • Immune System: Recent studies in pediatric health have concluded that children who lived with pets (but especially dogs) during their first year of life actually had a better immune system than those who did not. They believe that exposure to dogs (cats, too!) may have positively boosted the maturation of their immune system during infancy. In addition, when they did fall ill, they needed a shorter course of antibiotics compared to the children who did not live with pets.
  • Allergies: Another study found that children who were predisposed (at least one parent suffers from) respiratory allergies or asthma, are much less likely to develop similar issues if they they have a dog in the house. They found that early exposure is key. Children who had a dog (or cat) after the first year of birth had no added health benefits.
  • Skin: Recent studies found that dogs actually protect children who are at risk for eczema. In fact, children with dog allergies, who did not have dogs in the home, were four times more likely to develop eczema than those who did.

 

3. Better Emotional Intelligence

Everyone has heard of IQ, but have you thought about improving your child’s EQ (or emotional intelligence)? Owning a dog allows them to improve their emotional intelligence over time.

Caring for another life will require your child to become a more compassionate individual. Feeding or walking them, particularly at times they may have other things they would rather be doing, will mean that they have to step outside of themselves, and practice being selfless. A teacher who participated in a study about classroom pets said, “Having pets is an INVALUABLE aid for helping the children gain pride, caring, and empathy for the needs of themselves and others”.

In addition, caring for a pet builds a child's self-esteem. Accomplishing small tasks (such as filling up their water dish) will help them feel like they are competent and will also give them a sense of accomplishment.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention found that children with dogs in the home had reduced anxiety levels and reduced amounts of perceived stress. They also found that kids who interact with dogs have increased levels of oxytocin released to their brain. In short, DOGS = HAPPINESS (but you probably already knew that).

 

4. More Play and Exercise

Trying to find a way to pry your kids off of the couch and away from screen time? Try adopting a dog! On average, children who have a dog in the home exercise an average of 11 minutes more per day than those who do not have a dog. Those minutes may not seem like a lot, but they add up to 5.5 hours a month, and 66 hours per year! Some researchers believe that dog ownership may be a viable way to help combat childhood obesity.

 

5. Therapy

  • Autism: Did you know that 1 in 45 children in the United States have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD)? That is nearly 2% of the entire population of children ages 2-17 years of age. Many Autism awareness organizations have found that therapy dogs have an amazing impact on the quality of life and development of children with ASD. Some of the many benefits of having a dog include:
    • An increased sense of security
    • Fewer meltdowns
    • Decreased anxiety and acts of aggression
    • An increased willingness to try new things
    • Increased ability to face fearful situations
    • Increased social interaction due to the dog being an ice breaker and taking focus off the child’s disability
    • Encouraging verbal communication and an increased vocabulary
       
  • ADD and ADHD: The most recent study in the United States found that 6.4 million children have been diagnosed with ADHD. Some of the benefits of an ADD or ADHD therapy dog include:
    • Helping create consistency and a routine
    • Providing an outlet for excess energy to help aid in hyperactivity
    • Helping children cope with isolation and depression
    • Taking the stress out of new social situations

 

All in all, adopting a dog may be one of the best decisions you ever make for your child! Need to make sure your dog is healthy and ready for your family? Give us a call to make an appointment or fill out our online form!

 

This blog post originally appeared on The Drake Center and has been edited for syndication.

 

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