Kids and Dogs: The Benefits of Having a Pet

Statistically, eighty percent of Australians will have a pet at some point in their life. As such, companion animals or pets are an integral part of life for most of us.

Pets are beneficial to everyone, at all stages of life, and this is no truer than it is for children. Kids who have pets not only benefit from the enjoyment and reciprocal love a pet provides, but they also learn skills and develop responsibilities that they carry into adulthood. They also learn to love and respect all animals.

For many children and adults alike, relationships with beloved pets are more highly ranked than many of their human relationships – pets help provide and develop self esteem, confidence, support, and comfort. Children with a pet will often develop a more highly attuned sense of nurturing, as well as empathy, caring, responsibility, and even communication. Kids who have dogs will also be more physically active and fitter if they take the dog walking, or run and play with their pet.

Studies have even shown that children who have pets enjoy a higher level of self esteem and better social skills as a general rule than those who don’t have any pet at all.

It has also been shown statistically that families with a pet enjoy better family harmony, interacting more with each other and the pet.

Pets provide many health benefits to their human family members. Dogs and cats in particular are very powerful stress relievers (except when they are barking, digging up the yard, or scratching at the furniture!) and cuddles with your pet are very relaxing. Pet owners are also shown to have fewer visits to the doctor, suffer from fewer minor illnesses and physical complaints, and have a markedly decreased risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

It does need to be noted that kids and pets, especially small kids, need to be supervised carefully. Cats have a natural instinct to bite or scratch when feeling threatened, just as a dog’s natural instinct in such cases will be to bite. This is often an involuntary reaction. In our next blog, we’ll look at ways to make sure your kids are safe with dogs.

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