Children and the Benefits of Dog Ownership

The benefits of pet ownership to childhood development are well documented. There are a plethora of articles in-print and online that detail how interacting with a pet benefits children physically, emotionally and socially, as well as teaching them values like responsibility and empathy. I thought I’d share a couple of examples from my point of view. Responsibility: I get up every morning at 6:30 on the dot, and as soon as I get up I need to do two things: Go outside to take care of business and eat breakfast. This means somebody has to get up to feed me and take me out (rain or shine). This is a big responsibility for a child, and if they don’t take it seriously there are definitely consequences (usually on the carpet!). Just remember: dogs don’t teach responsibility –parents do. We just provide an excellent vehicle for learning. Emotional development: I love my owner and I count on him for everything. When I was a puppy he was the one that made me feel safe. When I was teething and my mouth hurt he was the one who fed me ice cubes. He taught me everything I know. In exchange I give him unconditional love and hours of fun. For children, these interactions promote the development of empathy and pro-social behavior. [1] Physical Development: I’m a Labrador Retriever which means I need a lot of exercise. I need to go out and burn calories EVERY DAY, and that means somebody needs to walk me, take me out to play fetch, or maybe take me swimming (I love swimming!!!). My owner is great about taking me for walks, running, playing fetch in the park, and once a week he takes me to a state park for a long hikes. I know he gets a workout during these activities, and so will your kids.[2] I could go on and on about how getting a dog is great for children and your family, but Bart gave me a word limit for my posts… Woof!   [1] Pet Ownership, Type of Pet and Socio-emotional Development of School Children. Vlasta Vizek Vidovic, Vesna Vlahovic Stetic and Denis Bratko. Originally published in Anthrozoos, Vol. 12, No. 4, 1999, pps 211-217. http://www.petpartners.org/document.doc?id=24   [2] http://www.ahealthiermichigan.org/2012/11/07/can-dog-ownership-help-lower-the-childhood-obesity-rates-in-america/