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Top 7 Reasons Why Your Kid Needs a Pet
Pets and kids go together naturally. From physical and mental health benefits to building self-esteem, here are a few reasons why your child needs a pet.
We all know that having their own pet to care for teaches a kid responsibility, but did you also know there is a wealth of other benefits to being a pint-sized pet parent? Yes, the direct and indirect up-side to adding a four-legged fur-child to the family is compelling, but just in case you need more reason (or kids, these are perfect if you’re trying to convince your parents), here are the top seven reasons (among hundreds) why your kids need a dog in their future:
- Immune-System Booster
The experts have spoken and according to the Medical Journal Pediatrics children and infants co-habiting with dogs are healthier, experiencing fewer viral infections than kids without dogs. The reason? Apparently the added exposure to germs, dirt and bacteria helps boost their immune system, making them less inclined to pick up infections, colds and all those icky, drippy sniffles they bring home from school.
- Kids With Dogs Are More Active
While it may require frequent reminders, walking the dog is a great way to get kids up off the sofa and out moving. Research indicates that kids who grow up with fur-brothers have a more active lifestyle because they naturally spend time interacting with the pooch in games of fetch, tag or walking. It’s also a great opportunity for them to interact with their friends and neighbors while on their daily constitutional.
- They’re Great Listeners
While this may seem like a silly excuse to bring a pup into the family unit, dogs are proven to be a highly effective audience for kids learning to read. Because of their naturally non-judgmental nature, pooches are used by organizations such as Therapy Dogs International to help build self-esteem among youngsters struggling with their ABCs. By reading aloud to their canine counterparts kids connect practice with a fun, inter-active and pleasant experience.
- Socialization Isn’t Just for Dogs
Studies support that kids who reside with a family dog tend to be more empathetic and social than those without. Adopting from a shelter or rescue helps teach kids not only compassion for those less fortunate, but that everyone deserves a second chance. And allowing youngsters to play pet parent teaches them the benefits and importance of caregiving.
- Cuddling a pet reduces loneliness and anxiety.
Did you know that “comfort dogs” were used to help school kids work through their fear and grief following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that left 20 children and six staff members dead? According to the experts, dogs have excellent listening skills, they demonstrate unconditional love, they don’t talk back – they just allow you to express yourself.
- They’re Proven Stress Busters
According to Duke University’s Canine Cognition Center, petting an animal releases oxytocin, a hormone associated with bonding and affection, in both the dog and the human. This chemical reaction actually reduces stress levels, regulates breathing and can even lower blood pressure.
- Patience Really is a Virtue
Anyone who has taught their dog to sit, speak, shake a paw or heel knows the importance of taking a steady, consistent approach to getting the desired results. Helping teach your child to train his or her new pet also encourages patience, routine and how to read the cues of what works and what doesn’t. These are skills that will be invaluable as they grow up.
Mary Simpson is a writer and communications professional. A soft touch for anything stray, she shares her century home with an eclectic collection of rescues that include orange tabby Chico, tuxedo Simon, and jet black Owen. She enjoys running, politics, exploring the wine regions, and is an avid supporter of the “shop local” movement.