How Do Dogs Help Children?
There’s an incredible bond between dogs and children. Many adults do not realize this, and there are some who refuse to have a family dog because they believe the care of one is simple too much to endure. However, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages in this case. You don’t have to take our word for it, the evidence is found in research.
Research Answering the Question: How Do Dogs Help Children?
Oregon State University researchers study the connection between children and dogs. The study recently published in Animal Cognition and Science Daily found that dogs synchronize their behavior with young children in the family.
Monique Udell, the lead author of the study and Oregon State animal behaviorist says:
“The great news is that this study suggests dogs are paying a lot of attention to the kids that they live with. They are responsive to them and in many cases, behaving in synchrony with them, indicators of positive affiliation and a foundation for building strong bonds.”
Their findings add to the growing body of evidence that dogs help children in many ways.
Udell encourages parents to consider owning a family dog because:
“What we are finding is that kids are very capable of training dogs, and that dogs are paying attention to the kids and can learn from them, sometimes we don’t give children and dogs enough credit. Our research suggests that with some guidance we can provide important and positive learning experiences for our kids and our dogs starting at a much earlier age, something that can make a world of difference to the lives of both.”
How Dogs Help Children
Dog ownership teaches and strengthens many valuable skills for life. The following are the ways dogs help child development.
- Dogs help children process their feelings. Many children develop a strong bond with their pet dog, so they begin talking about their feelings and that can greatly help them gain a better understanding of their identity.
- A pet dog can improve children’s immune system. A Clinical & Experimental Allergy study published in Time magazine found found that boys who grow up around dogs are 50% less likely to develop allergies and asthma than those who grow up without a dog.
- Children helping to care for a dog helps them learn responsibility. They also learn cooperation when the entire family takes care of the pet dog.
- Traumatized children often turn to their pet for comfort and when they have the bond mentioned above, they find themselves healing from their bad experiences. This is why therapy dogs are used often in therapeutic treatments.
- Older children seem to have better self-esteem when they have grown up with a dog.
- Pet owners are often less stressed compared to those who do not have pets. Stress can lead to mental and physical health problems. which is another reason doggies are great for health.
- Children with dogs exercise more because they run with them, take them for walks, and play with them in other ways. Exercise can decrease the chances of obesity in childhood and through adulthood.
- Compassion is an important quality to have and essential for proper child development. Dogs offer a child the ability to learn how to be compassionate and that can be translated to humans of all ages.
- Pups teach patience. Dog owners know that our fur babies are always easy to care for, which is why they are great for teaching and exercising patience.
How Losing a Dog Can Help Children
Putting a dog down due to old age helps children in unique ways.
- Kids can learn about the grieving process when they lose a family pet. They experience emotions they may have never felt before, so they know what to expect later in life.
- Unconditional love is a hard term to explain. A furry friend can help show kids what it is, especially when they cross the Rainbow Bridge. Children learn that even though their dog isn’t part of their life, they still can love them.
How Children Help Autistic Children
Autistic children often struggle with their emotions, which can make it difficult for them to be in social situation. Therapy dogs are able to help them process emotions by sharing them. Autistic children feel more comfortable with their emotions. This can decrease the stress they feel when interacting with other children and adults.
Therapy dogs also help autistic children to understand the importance of being gentle and calm around others. Autistic child learn how to approach a dog slowly and petting gently can translate to approaching people the same way. This can help improve impulse control as well. Autistic children often act out in exciting or stressful situations (like meeting a new dog). Being able to learn how to go against that impulsivity can be incredibly beneficial.
University of Montréal researchers find the stress level of a child with autism decline when living with a therapy dog. There’s evidence there are fewer behavioral problems as well.
Growing Your Family with a Furry Friend
Many parents shy away from adding a pet, especially dogs, to children’s lives because they fear when the dog dies it will be too traumatic. While it may be traumatic, the life lessons the pet teaches over the years are important.
Dogs make great companion animals that help young kids learn responsibility, social skills, and unconditional love. They are a great way to help older children with their confidence and self-esteem, so the teenage years aren’t so tumultuous.
Dog ownership isn’t as difficult and stressful as some people believe. The dog’s breed has a lot to do with the stress level of pet ownership. Research the ones that are best for your family. Consider the size, temperament, health concerns, and activity level. By knowing all of those traits of a dog’s breed, you can get a sense of what will be good for your home.
Once you decide on a breed, you will need to decide if you want to adopt from a shelter vs. breeder.
Comment below about your pets, especially dogs. Help others understand the value of dog ownership and how it has helped your young children with child development.
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