How Dogs Benefit Children
I was fortunate to grow up in a family of animal lovers. My parents bought a small farm that they renovated over the years and my farther fenced in acreage for two horses, three ponies, and two baby calves! Of course, my sister and I, saved every stray cat and dog that showed up at our house. We were taught that having an animal was hard work but very rewarding and so our work on my parent’s friend’s 500 acre farm began. Every weekend my parents would drive me and my sister out to that farm where we would clean out the barns, paint the spring houses, and help bail hay!! Then we would help my dad load up the back of the truck and bring hay home for the horses and the cows. I always say that my love for animals began the day I was born but my parents helped nurture that love and compassion and I am so grateful I had those childhood experiences and memories.
I’m writing this article about how dogs help kids but I think all animals help children know the meaning of love. I found some interesting information and want to share it with you.
Jake Thomas and Maggie Rose
As I type this, I’m honoring Throw Back Thursday! These pictures were taken of Jake and Maggie at the house when they were 10 weeks old.
- Children growing up in a house with a dog develop better social skills and maturity.
- They learn to interact socially by interacting with the dogs.
- Caring for a pet, especially a dog or a cat, can foster greater levels of empathy and prosocial behaviors in children.
- These skills in turn are related to higher levels of well-being later in life.
- Pets provide an opportunity for children to learn, practice, and become motivated to nurture another living being.
- Self-esteem can also be boosted by the presence of a dog.
- In regard to a child being bullied in school, having a best friend at home such as a dog can ease feelings of isolation or insecurity while increasing feelings of acceptance and social support.
- They can also improve emotional and physical health.
- Studies show that kids who grow up in a home with a dog have fewer allergies, especially respiratory allergies. This may be a result of the “Hygiene Hypothesis,” which holds that early-life exposure to allergens and microorganisms may strengthen the immune system.
- When a dog brings some of the outdoor inside with them, children are exposed to low doses of allergens when very young.
- Teaching kids how to property care for a puppy or a dog can help them become more cooperative and generous.
- When kids imagine how a dog feels, it helps them learn to empathize with their peers and take their feelings into account.
My sister and I share these memories of saving three adorable ponies from an abusive situation, 2 baby calves who had lost their mothers during childbirth, and gave two beautiful horses a loving home. I was bullied in school so I know what it is like for children to fear going to school but for me, I knew that coming home brought me happiness. I’m an adult now and still get bullied but it’s ok because I know how to handle it and I have my Jake and Maggie to hold :-). My sister and I grew up in that 100 year old farmhouse and although it is no longer in the family, our memories there and with our animals will be forever with us.
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