Can a Pet Dog Influence Your Child’s Future Self?

Did you know 62% of U.S. households include four-legged companions? Dogs are a long-time family favorite, coming in at 39%. For those of us lucky enough to be part of this percentage, childhood might include some great memories with your first best friend. Playing in the yard, reading picture books under a blanket fort, crawling to the fridge to grab a midnight snack — it’s hard to think of a childhood moment where Max or Spot didn’t play the role of Best Sidekick Ever.

Dogs can sometimes be a handful, but when well-trained, they bring undeniable joy and life to a home. The priceless moments of play, funny antics, and nose licks make it all worth the effort, especially in the life of a child.

Here are the benefits of raising children with dogs:

Higher Immunity to Certain Conditions

Common beliefs suggest that dogs trigger allergies, asthma, and other ailments — but a study says otherwise. According to the Journal of Pediatrics, children who had at least one dog during the first year of their life had a much higher immune response, with 31% fewer respiratory tract infections than those without.

Better Social Skills

Your child can develop better social skills when he or she feels the love of a pet. A dog’s love is unconditional; they do not judge or criticize, making it easy for kids to trust and build a relationship with them. Dogs are like friends your child can always count on; someone who will never hurt or let them down. As your child enters adulthood, he or she can carry this positive outlook and show others the same trusting, genuine, and unconditional treatment.

Feeling Less Lonely

Being an only child or having constantly absent parents can get pretty lonesome. Conversely, loneliness a key concern for thousands of children. Having a dog can help your growing tot overcome sad moments. Not only do dogs recognize emotions in humans, but they also accompany the owner in a silent, yet very present way. Always having someone to play and communicate with is also a great bonus. Remember, a dog is man’s best friend (or in this case, a child’s).

Good Sense of Responsibility

Sadly, stray dogs know they have no one to care for them, which is why they fend for themselves by digging through trash. However, an attached family dog becomes dependent on his or her owners, allowing a child to practice responsibility.

Girl and Her DogHaving a pet dog will help your son or daughter understand obligations faster than other kids because they will come to realize that a dog needs constant feeding, grooming, and exercise. A dog also encourages nurturing as your kid learns to be proactive in caring for a living being, so don’t feel too bad about assigning those poop-scooping duties.

A final word of advice: While having a dog can be a delightful family experience, always remember that your parental guidance is still important in shaping the positive behavior of both your children and family dog.