There are very few, if any, children who would not love to have a dog as a pet in the family home. Other pets such as cats, rabbits and guinea pigs are also much-loved and can offer a lot in the way of benefits to children. Yet dogs are frequently the most chosen pets because they offer loyalty, companionship and unquestioning devotion to their owners. They also respond to commands, can learn new things, and can bond with your children in a way that other pets can’t.
When did you last command a cat or a rabbit to do something? Did it comply? Of course not – so it’s a part of the reason dogs are such popular pets for children. It goes without saying that you need to consider the type of pet appropriate for the age of your child; that’s why guinea pigs and rabbits are ideal for younger ones. They are docile, have lovely fur to be stroked and a child can be taught how to feed and care for them as both children and pets get older.
Developing your child’s responsibility
Just as it’s up to parents to bring up their children as responsible people, so a dog can feature as an important part of how a child develops responsibility. Dogs need to be cared for and they also need to build relationships with those who care for them and love them. Keeping them in good health with well-balanced nutrition, fresh water, the appropriate vaccinations and ensuring they are free from fleas by using dog flea tablets are just some of the important things you need to do when you have a dog.
As well as helping to develop responsibility, children also form emotional bonds with pets, particularly with dogs. It can help them to be much less self-centred and to develop humane attitudes like empathy and nurturing. A dog can be part of a network of support during difficult times, such as adolescence or illness in the family. Those strong emotional bonds between child and dog can help alleviate some of the difficulties associated with these times.
It doesn’t matter how large or small your dog is, it needs exercise. Child obesity is rife, yet it can be avoided or addressed in some children simply by taking the dog for a walk. If you have a park near you then children can throw balls or sticks, chase the dog, and keep fit in a fun and enjoyable way. Fitness helps build the immune system and when children are exposed to pets in their early years it may reduce the possibility of them suffering from hay fever or asthma as their systems adapt to being close to animals in the home.
Pets can bring real benefits to the family home that touch on the physical, the psychological and the emotional. Invite your child to talk about what they would like and make them part of the decision-making.