How kids can benefit from having a dog

Yahoo Contributor Network

Your kids want a dog, but you say, "No way!" They're messy, stinky, and time-consuming, not to mention expensive! But hold on - there just may be more good reasons to add a dog to your family than there are to deny their request. There is mounting evidence suggesting that having a dog can be beneficial to your children in many different ways. So before you make up your mind, take a look at some of these findings.

Having a dog can teach your children responsibility.

It stands to reason that if kids share in the care of the family dog they will begin to learn about responsibility. Feeding, bathing, exercising and even playing with a dog can help a child learn to put other things above themselves. It gives children a sense of accomplishment that makes them feel good about themselves and can lead to other positive behavioral traits.

Having a dog can improve a child's mental health.

There are lots of things that contribute to a child's mental well-being, and having a dog touches on several of them. Children with dogs have more self-confidence and higher self-esteem. They also experience less loneliness and are more able to exhibit empathy and patience towards others.

Having a dog teaches children an appreciation of animals.

We share this planet with millions of other animal species. Owning and caring for a dog teaches children about the differences between dogs and us. Experiencing those differences first-hand teaches children the value animals add to our lives and why they deserve appreciation and respect.

Having a dog can improve a child's ability to learn.

Yes, it's true. Reading aloud to the family dog creates an environment that is safe and non-threatening. This helps children learn to read better and faster. The self-confidence this generates also makes it possible for children to learn other subjects more quickly as well.

Having a dog can improve a child's physical health.

There have been many studies in recent years showing that owning a pet has many positive effects on a person's health. One of the more interesting findings pertaining to children is that those who are exposed to pets in their first year of life are less likely to suffer from pet allergies as adults. According to the Centers for Disease Control, pet owners also have lower blood pressure, experience less stress, have lower cholesterol levels, and tend to get more physical exercise.

Sources:

"Pets and Children," American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

"Reading Education Assistance Dogs Program," TherapyAnimals.org

Jennifer Warner, "Pets May Reduce Children's Allergy Risk," WebMD.com

"Health Benefits of Pets," CDC.gov

More from Cherri:

Summer safety tips for your dog at the park

Tips for teaching your dog to swim

Train your dog to fetch

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