Dog ownership is on the rise in the United States. Between 2012 and 2016, the number of households with a dog increased from 43.3 million (36.5%) to 54.4 million (44%).
Like other pets, dogs grow to become integral parts of the family, and often make great friends for kids.
When you have kids and at the same time own a dog, you will receive a lot of unsolicited (mostly) advice from everyone. Many will tell you why it’s not okay to raise a kid with dogs around for multiple reasons.
However at the end of the day, only you know what’s best for your family.
If you are struggling with the decision, maybe these reasons on why you should not worry about owning a dog will help.
#1. A Dog Can Boost a Kid’s Confidence
The life of a child is always under a microscope. We expect them to be at their best behavior (even though at that age they can easily go astray), we expect great grades from them and basically everything in their lives may feel like a test.
When you are constantly being monitored, it is easy to abandon your true personality and with it your self-confidence. It can be detrimental for a kid with many unintended consequences in his/her later life.
A pet and in this case a dog does not have great expectations. They love and accept what they get, thereby greatly reducing this burden for the kid. They can be themselves when around the dog without worrying about family or society expectations.
The result is a big boost in confidence.
#2. A Dog Improves The Kid’s Communication/Social skills
A dog is a man’s best friend… literally. They don’t judge you, they don’t interrupt you, they just listen and often follow orders.
But they do give indirect cues to express their feelings. Kids can learn a lot about interacting with people by just observing and being close to dogs.
Studies have shown that children with dogs at home are more empathetic than those without. This can especially be the case if the dog was adopted from a rescue shelter with the kid’s knowledge.
Also, when a child forms a relationship with a dog from an early age, that is the best training they can get for valuable social and emotional skills that will come in handy later in life.
#3. A Dog Encourages Responsibility
From around the age of 2, a child in a house with a dog should start being allocated some ‘pet chores’ to encourage responsibility. This site breaks them down properly.
A kid under the age of 5 should be able to pick up the dog’s toys, put them in proper boxes or bins, and also play with the pet.
Between the age of 6 and 9, the kid should get extra responsibilities, namely: exercising the pet, cleaning the food bowl and helping to clean the pet cage/house.
From age 14, the child should start walking the dog, washing it, giving it medication and dealing with the waste.
A breakdown of the dog chores at the appropriate age.
|2 & under||Pick up the dog’s toys and play with it.|
|3 to 5||Previous chores plus;
Put toys in proper boxes/bins.
|6 to 9||Previous chores plus;
*Put out the dog food
*Exercise the dog
*Wipe up spills from floor
*Clean dog’s food bowl
*Help clean cage or dog house.
|10 – 13||Previous chores plus;
*Give medication or vitamins to the dog.
|14 – 17||Previous chores plus;
*Clean the litter box
*Deal with the dog waste (picking up the poop)
*Walking the dog
*Washing the dog.
#4. A Dog May Boost the Child’s Immune System
A study conducted by Medical Journal Pediatrics found that children living in a house with a dog are healthier than those living in a house without.
This may be a bit ironic since dogs are not the cleanest creatures, but it so happens that when kids are exposed to dirt and bacteria, their immune system is strengthened.
Apart from the scientific jargon of the immune system and all that, there’s the pretty obvious benefit to a child’s health… play. Kids need to involve themselves in lots of physical activities and a dog is perfect especially when the kid has few human friends.
Activities like ‘playing fetch’, running around the backyard with the pup, or simply walking the dog results in a better lifestyle for the kid. This is very important particularly in this age of phones, computers and the internet.
#5. A Dog Can Protect the Kid
There are many dangers in the world we live in. We’ve read or witnessed cases of children disappearing after a short walk from their homes. Who knows how it could have ended if they had a dog with them?
Depending on their level of training and how they interact with people, dogs will provide different levels of protection. At a bare minimum, it will bark to alert the owner or other people that all is not well.
Once the dog has lived with the kid and known him/her to be part of the family, it will instinctively offer its protection. There are so many scenarios this can present itself.