Kids and Dogs: The Perfect Comboby Carissa - January 4th, 2016
My kids have always had a dog in their lives. When my first son was born, our golden retriever was his best friend. I never had to worry about where my eldest was or what he was doing because our dog, Jedi, was like his nanny. Jedi would follow my son around, and let me know if he was getting into something he shouldn’t. Not to mention, Jedi was probably the most docile dog on the planet. He could withstand any amount of torture a young boy could dream up and still seem to love every minute of it. My son’s now ten and while Jedi’s been gone a couple of years now, he’s bonded just as much with our husky, Maya. Interestingly enough, my daughter has taken more to her dad’s dog, a small dachshund, over the larger breeds we have at our house. I think it’s probably due to the high-energy tendency of our husky and her quick ability to bowl over a young girl if she wasn’t paying enough attention. Either way, both of my older kids love dogs in all their shapes and sizes.
There are tons of ways I’ve seen my kids grow into their dog ownership, from infants all the way to the big kid ages. Some of the most notable ones are:
1. ResponsibilityAt our house, my kids are responsible for making sure our husky has fresh water and is fed each day. Being in charge of her food and water makes them more aware of the needs of others and gives them a sense of responsibility they may not otherwise have.
2. CompassionBy tending to the needs of our dog, my kids have learned how to be more compassionate people. They understand our husky has her own needs and desires to be part of our family “pack". Because of this, they can tell when the dog wants to play, to run around, or just cuddle. They’ll intentionally take a time out to go play with her because they don’t want her to feel left out.
3. Unconditional LoveEveryone has bad days; kids and grownups alike. Dogs don’t care, though. They’ll love you even when you’re having a rough day, when no one understands you, and when your little sister is annoying the heck out of you.
4. CompanionshipNo one likes to be lonely. When kids have someone to talk to, even if it’s the reliable and non-judgmental ear of their dog, they feel more connected. Dogs have a good way of providing the companionship and friendship every kid (and person!) needs. Alternatively, dogs need to feel like they’re a part of a pack, to be included, so having a symbiotic relationship with companionship helps kids to feel included and be inclusive of others.
5. ExerciseIf you have a dog, you know all about the needs of getting outside and moving your body. Whether playing in the yard with a ball, harnessing them to a sled, or going for a walk/run – a dog helps your children to get the exercise they need.
6. ProtectionNot every dog is a guard dog, but those who are can be miraculous family pets. Whether just alerting you to strangers nearby, or drawing your attention to something your child shouldn’t be doing (or getting into) – dogs have a myriad ways they can protect you and your family and still be fantastic pets.
7. LoyaltyWithout a doubt, dogs are some of the most loyal animals on the planet. Just ask a cat owner. More than that, however, is their ability to convey loyalty to kids in a way they understand simply through their continued loyalty no matter what.
8. Play Without TechIn a world where everything you do is tied to technology, having a dog gives kids some much needed non-tech playtime. Studies have shown getting outside and getting off tech is extremely beneficial for developing minds.
9. VacuumIf you’ve got kids, you know how messy they can be. Especially when they reach the toddler stage and up. Food has a way of hitting the floor and ending up in places you wouldn’t ordinarily expect. When you have an indoor dog, you have an automatic vacuum cleaner, too. The dog gets fed, and the floor stays clean. It’s a win-win.
10. Baby EntertainmentI don’t know about you, but whenever our infant was having a rough time, all we’d have to do is call in Maya and she’d instantly brighten my son’s day. The crying would stop and big baby grins would ensure. I don’t know what it is about silly puppy kisses, but they sure do work miracles when you need them to.
When it comes to having healthy, happy kids, consider how a puppy or dog can (or already does) affect your lives. From reducing stress and anxiety to teaching valuable lessons, and even being a much-needed shoulder to rely on, dogs are the perfect pet for families with kids in the mix.
Carissa Andrews is a freelance writer, graphic designer, and author. You can learn more about her at her website.
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