What can children learn by having a dog in the family?

Have your ever wondered what children can learn by having a dog?

by Laura Pakis, Certified Dog Trainer and Professional Blogger,

Owning a dog can help children learn compassion, but there are other positive effects including the development and enrichment of bonding, responsibility, stability and empathy.  Once respect and consideration for an animal is developed, it is life-long.  Examples:  waking up in the middle of the night frightened by a dream and hugging the dog close, a living thing to come home to when the house is empty, an uncritical friend to offer support during a childhood crisis, a curious companion to discover the world with.

Teaching responsibility

Although you may want to allow your emotions to rule when your child asks for a dog, children should be encouraged to read about the care and handling of dogs BEFORE they get one.  Researching the time commitment, training, housing and feeding will provide the best environment for the pet as well as prepare the family for the addition of this living creature.  And it might help in the decision as to when is best to add a dog to the family.

Civic responsibilities

Dogs can teach a child about civic responsibilities.   Dog owners must consider how their pet’s habits affect their neighbors and their community.  Scooping up poop and controlling barking are high on this list as well as training good manners.

On the other hand, dogs are not a good source to educate children on the miracle of birth; rather parents should rent a video or take out books from the library to provide this information.

Physical activity

Dogs require daily feeding, exercise, and affection, not to mention grooming and potty time (and clean-up). Older children can learn how to care for another living creature and even younger children can help with feeding and playtime.

Children who own a dog learn how enjoyable being physically active with their pet can be as they play tug-of-war, fetch, or go for walks. Research shows that children in dog-owning families spend more time being physically active than children without dogs.

Learning social skills

Dogs can be amazing social “ice breakers.” As your family takes your dog for walks, your child’s social skills will improve as they watch you interact with others. Pets may also help children with autism to develop social skills such as sharing.

Owning a dog teaches children how to respect others. They must learn that a dog is a living creature with wants and likes.  Children need to learn to touch them gently and not disturb them when they’re eating or sleeping.

A dog’s loyalty toward its owner is often unmatched. In turn, children learn the importance of showing loyalty to their devoted furry friend as well as others.


Your children can have many emotional and physical needs fulfilled by a dog, including comforting contact, love, and affection.  Other noted benefits include better grades at school, presumably because owning a pet seems to give kids greater motivation.

The history of mankind and it’s connection with domesticated animals has long been debated, but a discovery in Israel of a man buried with his arms around a wolf-pup dating back 12,000 years, may be evidence of just how long ago humans discovered the benefits of having pets. When you choose a dog as part of your family, the benefits to raising children along with a pet are great.

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