What Children can Learn by Having a Dog in the Family

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By Laura Pakis, Certified Professional Dog Trainer and Blogger

I’ve had dogs throughout my life.  I actually can’t think of a time in my childhood there wasn’t a dog in the family.  Sure they’re a lot of work, but the enjoyment, friendship and even personal development a dog can provide a child makes the investment worthwhile.

Positive effects dogs have on children include 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 pet 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.

Children should be encouraged to read about the care and handling of the dog 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.

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

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.

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