Family pets can be a valuable addition to any household. They bring so much delight and fun. Children can benefit so much from having a pet in the family. Dogs are such great companions, and having a dog in our household has taught my kids so much about love, care and responsibility.
Health Benefits of Pets
There are so many benefits to having a dog in the family. One commonly known benefit with dogs is that they encourage us to exercise and get outdoors. Taking a walk, or playing with the dog in the yard are great ways to expel energy for the kids as well as the dog!
Then there’s the snuggles- most pets love a pat or a cuddle. They accept you for who you are, whether you are the best runner or the worst speller. Whether you are grumpy, tired or happy, a dog will usually always love a snuggle or a pat. Patting animals releases feel good hormones that can help soothe an anxious or worked up child (or adult!). That’s one reason why specially trained ‘therapy dogs’ are now being used more and more in schools and therapeutic settings.
If you need another excuse, one (surprising) bonus of pet ownership might be less allergies such as eczema, asthma and hay fever. One study found a link between pet ownership (dogs and cats) in early childhood with reduced levels these allergies when competed to pet-free households. Sadly, if you are already allergic to pet dander, this won’t help you though!
Pet ownership encourages kids to think of something/someone outside themselves, building empathy. A pet gets hungry, tired, cold and excited, just like us. Kids need to learn and understand these things to look after their family pet.
Kids will need to constantly ensure the pet has its needs met- food, water, clean bedding, exercise etc. Feeding a pet is a small but very important job that can’t be forgotten!! It’s the type of chore that is very manageable for little kids to help with.
Do your research
As many benefits a family pets bring, it is also a big responsibility and commitment. You will usually have the pet for a long time. Think about what sort of breed or type of pet would work with your budget (think purchase cost, food, vet, council registration and grooming costs). Consider your yard size (or lack of), lifestyle and family members.
For example; If you like to go away camping on weekends, can the pet come with you? If not, who will look after it?
Will the pet have much alone time? Some dog breeds deal better with this than others. Whereas cats just don’t seem to mind being left on their own as much, as long as they are fed!
If you are thinking about getting a dog and have little ones in your family, you’ll want to choose a dog breed that’s renowned for being good with children. Training dogs is vital too (and also the children on how to be gentle with animals!). Regardless of how well trained and sweet natured your pet (or child) may be, it is always advisable to supervise young children around pets.
There are many good reasons to introduce a pet into your family, but its not a decision to be made lightly. The right pet needs to be for the right family. You get that right, and you’ll enjoy having a family pet so much more.
MOPS Blog Administrator