Has your child asked for a puppy? At some point, every kid wants a dog. As a parent, the first thought is the extra time, work, and cost of owning a pet. You worry about walking the dog, feeding, watering, fur and dander, and veterinarian bills. However, the benefits to the health and development of your child are significant.
Here are some of the rewards of growing up with a dog:
- Learning responsibility – While your child might have chores around the house, caring for a living creature is much different. Feeding, walking, bathing, and cleaning up after a dog are jobs your child can handle.
- Better health – Studies in pediatric health show that kids who live with pets (particularly dogs) during their first year of life develop better immune systems than those who don’t. It is believed that the maturation of the immune system during infancy is elevated by exposure to pets. A shorter course of antibiotics was required to combat illness.
- Reduce the chance of allergies – Children with at least one parent who suffers from respiratory allergies or asthma are predisposed to developing similar issues. However, they are less likely to suffer those conditions if they have a dog in the house during their first year of life.
- Protection against eczema – Dogs are helpful for kids who are at risk for eczema. Children who did not have a dog are four times more likely to develop eczema than those who did.
- Emotional development – Showing compassion, practicing empathy, and prioritizing the care of the dog promotes selflessness. Demonstrating their capabilities builds self-esteem and provides a feeling of accomplishment.
- Reduce anxiety levels – The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has provided information that children who interact with dogs have reduced levels of perceived stress and increased levels of oxytocin released into their brains.
- Exercise – Looking for ways to lessen screen time? Children with dogs in the home tend to be more active and research indicates that adopting a dog may help to combat childhood obesity.
- Autism therapy – Therapy dogs have a positive impact on the development and quality of life of children with ASD, including providing a sense of security, encouraging verbal communications, decreasing anxiety, minimizing acts of aggression, and reducing meltdowns.
- ADD and ADHD therapy – Dog therapy promotes consistency and a routine, offers an outlet for excess energy, helps children deal with depression, and alleviates the stress of new social interactions.
While a dog might not be for everyone, if you do decide to get your child a dog, the benefits are plenty!