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  /  Child Development   /  Should I Get a Dog For My Child?

Should I Get a Dog For My Child?

There are all sorts of reasons you might be considering bringing a furry friend into your family such as getting everyone more active, teaching your children responsibility, or giving your child some extra companionship.

A dog can be particularly good for children who struggle with anxiety or friendships, because children can confide in their furry friend without judgement or just have a warm comforting cuddle whenever they need one.

While there are lots of benefits, owning a dog or any pet is not something you should just jump into. Here are a few benefits to getting a family dog, as well as a few things to be mindful of.

Teaching Your Child Responsibility

Dogs need feeding, walking, playing with, and companionship, every single day. So owning a pet is a great way to teach your child about responsibility and develop their nurturing skills.  These are all important things to learn as your child gets older, both in work and relationships. 

Playing in the garden and going for daily walks can also be great motivation for your child to get away from those screens, be more active, and spend extra time with the family. 

Getting your child involved in the training can be very rewarding for them too, as they see the success of their work – as well as teaching patience and perseverance when their furry friend isn’t playing along!

If you’ve never owned any pets before consider getting something smaller first, such as a hamster or goldfish, to see how your family gets on with this added responsibility.

Developing Empathy

There are lots of costs to think about with a new pet and things quickly add up – food, toys, medicine, surprise vet bills, along with the pair of shoes that will inevitably get chewed! 

This is another life skill that your child can pick up through ownership of a family dog, as they may have to give things up so that you can afford these costs. 

Your child can therefore learn about priorities and the fact that sometimes you can’t get what you want, because the money has to be spent elsewhere. This can help develop empathy and compassion, because they have to put the dog’s needs before their own wants.

Coping with Loss

A dog quickly becomes a part of the family and it’s likely your child will become very attached. This can make it difficult for them if your dog gets ill or injured, or has to be put down. 

At the same time it’s not a bad thing for your child to experience the life cycle in this way and learn to cope with these strong emotions, as this is something they will inevitably have to deal with as they grow older. 

This is a good learning opportunity where you can equip them with the tools they’ll need to handle death and illness in the future.

Conclusion

Bringing a new pet into the family is a very exciting prospect. They can teach your child a myriad of life skills, offer great company and emotional support, and relieve stress. 

For a bit of practice before going full steam ahead, you could ask to dog-sit for a friend while they go on holiday, or offer to walk your neighbour’s dog for a week or two. 

When you do decide you’re ready to get a dog, consider adopting one of the thousands of rescue dogs who need a forever home. Having a rescue dog is hugely rewarding and will not necessarily come with extra behavioural or health problems, plus any dogs who cannot be homed with children will be highlighted. 

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