Dogs and children share a special bond, one that is mutually beneficial. Children tend to feel safe around dogs, and they often have a positive effect on the dog’s behavior. The opposite is also true: Having a dog around can help keep children grounded, improve their social skills, and even help them with their physical and emotional development. In short, there are plenty of benefits that come from having dogs and kids growing up together.
If you’re a parent who is thinking about getting a dog for your child, or if you’re simply interested in why it’s so universally recognized that dogs and kids get along so well, read on to find out more about the benefits of dogs and children growing up together, as well as learn which dog breeds are great for children.
The 7 Benefits of Dogs and Children Growing Up Together
1. The Caretaking Teaches Responsibility
The simple act of feeding your dog every day will teach your child about responsibility. But that’s just the start. Once your child has a dog, they’ll learn what it means to truly care for another living thing. They’ll learn the importance of daily rituals, like walking and feeding.
They’ll get a chance to observe the changes in their dog as they age. As your child gets older, having a dog will help them form new social connections. Having a dog is a great way for children to get out of the house. For example, when they’re at the dog park, they may have an easy icebreaker to start up conversations with other kids.
2. Social Skills and Emotional Support
Dogs are extremely good at reading human body language, which makes them great for children who have social challenges. If your child struggles with reading facial expressions or if they have trouble talking to other children, a dog may help.
Dogs will react to your child in the same way they’d react to an adult. If your child gets excited, the dog will get excited too. If they’re sad, the dog will notice and try to comfort them. Many children with special needs find that dogs are better companions than humans.
They can be more understanding, and they don’t get offended if the child says something that isn’t polite. What’s more, having a dog around to provide emotional support can do wonders for a child who is anxious or depressed. Having a pet is proven to lower blood pressure and reduce stress hormones.
3. Physical and Mental Development
Believe it or not, dogs are also great for your child’s physical development, helping them to get daily exercise, thus helping to build muscle and improve balance. Having a dog around can help your child become more active in so many different ways. Having a dog around can also open up the opportunity for your child to interact with other people.
For example, your dog will need to visit the vet at some point, which means your child may get the chance to interact with other children who are there with their own dogs. You can also arrange playdates with other families who have dogs. It can also help your child learn to navigate challenging situations like vet visits and walks.
4. Protection and Care
Dogs are notoriously protective of babies and young children. There are many stories (and YouTube videos) about hero dogs that save babies from danger, such as intruders and impending home disasters. Dogs seem to be the loyal guardians of children, instinctively letting their protective nature rule when it comes to them. It’s almost as if the dog sees them as little puppies that need constant looking after and protection – and there’s nothing wrong with that.
5. Dogs Can Be Great Companions for Kids with Anxiety
Dogs also have some specific benefits for children who suffer from anxiety. Having a dog around can help a child who is anxious experience a reduced amount of fear and anxiety. An emotional support dog can help your child feel safer and more confident when they’re out and about or at home.
They can be great companions for kids who shy away from unfamiliar people. They’re also great for young children who suffer from separation anxiety or older kids who are too shy to talk to new people. Having a dog around can help keep a child’s anxiety levels down. Dogs are extremely devoted animals and they’re happiest when they’re close to their owner and doing something to please them.
6. Constant Companionship
Even though childhood can be more difficult for some children than others, having a pet is a constant companion through all the trials and tribulations. Children can often find comfort in dogs, even when they are learning difficult lessons. Children can always look to their dog when they feel down, confused, or scared.
7. Potentially Less Allergy Issues
Research has shown that babies who are raised with pets have a lower incidence of getting sick in the first year. This means that they visit the doctor fewer times for allergy-related issues than babies not exposed to dogs. What happens is that the baby’s immune system development is improved by being exposed to pet dander and various microbes brought in from the outside.
The 6 Best Dog Breeds for Children
While there are a number of great dog breeds for kids out there, choosing the right one can be tricky because every child is different. Since every kid is unique, what appeals to one child may not have the same effect on another. Let’s look at some of the most common breeds of dogs that tend to appeal to and respond well around children.
1. Labrador Retriever
The Labrador Retriever is a very common breed of dog that appeals to many children. As one of the top breeds for kids, Labrador Retrievers are known to be energetic, friendly, loyal, and easy to train.
A Lab’s energy level is generally high enough to keep kids of all ages entertained, but not so high that it becomes a problem for the whole family. Plus, Labs are known for their gentle nature and friendly temperament, making them a great choice for families with children of all ages.
2. Golden Retriever
Golden Retrievers are also popular family dogs that tend to be very appealing to children. Golden Retrievers are known for being friendly, energetic, loyal, and eager to please. This breed makes for a good family dog because they are patient and good with children of all ages.
They’re also easy to train and enjoy being part of a family, which makes them a great choice of top dog breeds for kids. Golden Retrievers are often considered one of the best dog breeds for kids because they are very patient. They can easily handle a young child’s rough play and are not easily distracted.
3. German Shepherd
The German Shepherd is known as one of the best dog breeds for kids because they are very patient, protective, and eager to please. Shepherds are known for being excellent guard dogs, but they also make great family pets, especially for families with children.
German Shepherds are patient, obedient, and eager to please, which makes them a great choice for families with children who are just learning how to train dogs. They’re also protective, and although they are not likely to attack (unless trained to do so), they will sound a good bark alarm if they sense potential danger.
4. Siberian Husky
The Siberian Husky is also a good breed that’s rather appealing to many children. Huskies are known for their friendly and playful temperament.
Huskies also love to play and are a great choice for families with children who have the energy to keep up with them. Siberian Huskies are great family dogs that are generally very patient with children. And don’t be surprised if you see your young children trying to imitate their howl.
Boxers are very active and playful dogs that are appealing to many families. Boxers are eager to please and are generally very friendly, making them a great choice for families with children. They’re energetic, but not overly hyper, which is good for kids who need to burn off extra energy.
Boxers are one of the top breeds for kids because they are very patient, even with very young and small children. They’re also fiercely loyal and enjoy being part of a family. Boxers are great family dogs that are generally good with children of all ages.
Poodles are one of the top breeds for kids because they are playful, energetic, and very patient with children. They’re also small enough for children to handle and play with without accidentally getting harmed. Poodles are generally known as gentle dogs, which makes them a great choice for families with young kids.
Overall, they’re very active dogs that generally love to play, making them perfect for children who need to burn off extra energy – something most parents will appreciate. Poodles are generally very intelligent and easy to train and are known for being excellent swimmers.
Wrapping Things Up
There are many ways that owning a dog can benefit your child, both now and in the future. Dogs can help build your child’s social skills and they can help ease anxiety among children with special needs. Dogs and children have a special bond.
These loving animals are great for kids of all ages, come in many different breeds and sizes, and are great for both large and small homes. Just remember that they need attention, structure, and training just like humans do, and it’s important to teach your children how to safely interact with dogs as well.
Featured Image Credit: Stone36, Shutterstock