Dogs for kids: A combination of love and learning
Getting dogs for kids can teach them wonderful life lessons and bring the family closer.
For my family and me, our three dogs are a special and significant part of our lives. We have two awesome male dogs, Dapper and Lucas, and one younger female dog, Zoey. Each is a pedigreed mutt and each has his or her own distinct, and delightful, personality.
For as long as I can remember, pets have been part of my life (I grew up on a farm with an entire menagerie of animals and birds), and now my kids are experiencing the joys of pets. Our dogs greeted us at the back door when we brought our girls home from the hospital and our girls have grown up living alongside their furry siblings.
Having a dog is a big responsibility and pet ownership is not something to be entered into lightly. However, letting a dog into your lives can teach your child some wonderful life lessons and bring your family closer through shared experience and responsibility.
Here are a just a few life lessons we’ve learned through our family’s experience:
Dogs provide companionship.
Our dogs are truly bonded to our family. Whether we are taking them for a walk, playing fetching in the backyard or snuggling with them while we watch TV or read, our dogs are loving members of our family.
Dogs teach kids empathy.
Dogs are social animals. They can be very attuned to their owners and express their happiness or fear very easily. Kids can quickly learn to read their dogs’ emotions and help them feel more secure.
Research reported in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology indicates that pets provide meaningful social support for owners and improve their lives. While previous research has found that people facing serious health challenges fare better with pets, this study found that people can benefit from pet ownership under everyday circumstances as well.
“Pet owners were happier and healthier than non-owners, and thoughts of one’s pet could insulate one from feeling down following a social rejection experience,” the researchers said.
Dogs teach kids responsibility.
Dogs rely on their owners 100 percent for food, water, shelter and exercise. Helping take care of a pet’s needs can be incorporated into their daily chores and is a wonderful way to teach kids the responsibility of caring for another living thing.
Dogs teach kids about life.
Putting our beloved Corgi/German Shepherd mix Bailey to sleep a few years ago was heart breaking. We prepared our girls for her death, and they were able to say goodbye in their own special ways. They showered her with extra affection and attention and even read bedtime stories to her. Losing a pet helps kids understand the cycle of life and the grieving process.
Being a dog owner is a big responsibility. Before you and your family decide to get a dog, be sure to research breeds and rescue facilities in your area. There are many wonderful resources available online to help ensure you find the perfect tail-wagging addition to your home.
Do you have a dog? How has owning a dog enriched your family’s life? Share your experience in the comments below.