8 Ways Kids Benefit from Having a Dog

When given tasks to complete, such as helping with the care of a pet, kids show an improvement in self-esteem. The tasks should be age-appropriate, though, the authors say, such as allowing a 3-year-old who is too young to walk a dog put the water bowl down instead.

1. They have higher self-esteem

Multiple studies showed that children who owned pets were more empathetic towards others. “If there are pets in the house, parents and children frequently share in taking care of the pet, which suggests that youngsters learn at an early age how to care for and nurture a dependent animal,” Endenburg and Baarda write.

2. They’re more compassionate

Several researchers found that children often name their pet when asked who they would go to with a problem. “Pets can make people feel unconditionally accepted, whereas fellow humans will judge and may criticize,” the report continues.

3. They feel supported

Some research has suggested that kids who talk to pets, whether by giving praise and commands or just babbling, show improved cognitive development. Some schools and animal rescues even have programs where children practice reading to animals. The benefits apply to both the kids and the dogs!

4. They have better cognitive skills

Petting a dog has been proven to lower cortisol levels in both the person and the pet. Also, research has found that children’s stress levels decrease when reading aloud to a dog.

5. They have less stress

Playing with a pet raises levels of serotonin and dopamine, which calm the mind and increase the mood.

6. They’re happier

Besides the obvious benefits of being more active and getting outside more often when playing with a dog, several studies have suggested that children who have dogs have a decreased chance of developing allergies.

7. They’re healthier

Having a dog is a huge responsibility, and getting your child involved in your pet’s care will prepare them for responsibilities later in life. For example, you and your child will need to take your puppy out for a potty break about every two hours for the first few weeks. Mealtime is also a great way to involve kids in caring for their pet.

8, They’re more responsible