If you are thinking to bring home a new pet dog, you have to consider a lot of factors. Pets are entertaining companions for kids. Research has proved that bringing a companion dog home positively affects the children at home. Their social, physical, cognitive and emotional growth takes a new turn after interacting with dogs.
Despite the positive effects, you as a pet-parent and a child-parent have to play an important role in building the relationship between the two. The rules with all the do’s and don’ts have to be taught to both the pet and child.
Which dog breed should you choose?
Another dominant area of concern is the dog breed. People often bring home toy dog breeds or aggressive guard dog to make their children happy. But, lack of patience, anxiety, aggression, and hyperactivity in such dogs can challenge the children’s smooth survival. Large dog breeds that are hyperactive often knock children over or bark excessively to freak them out. They are not good companion dog choices for a home with kids.
Set the rules for the dogs and children:
- Children get along with new pet dogs quite easily. However, if they are entirely ignored in front of their pets, they may develop some behavior issues.
- Before bringing home a new pet, make some rules for the children – like not to squeeze their furry toy dog too much or invade the dog’s personal space and make him angry.
- Make arrangements for certain things such as where the dog will sleep when to confine him in a crate and where his toys will be placed etc.
- New pet puppies are a little bit difficult to deal with, as they require a lot of attention and care. Adult companion dogs like Labradors are responsible, caring, and loving family dogs.
- Train the dog through positive reinforcement by guiding him treats and appreciation whenever he behaves well around the children at home.
- Dogs treat families like a pack and the two parents as pack leaders. However, young kids are considered by them as equals or subordinates. Such misconceptions often lead them to behave negatively with kids by hitting them or barking at them. So, training is imperative for dogs to understand the new relationship.
Benefits of Dog-child Interaction:
Research has shown that this companionship leads to better socialization skills and improved confidence in children. Dogs often become a reason for their socialization with other children. Other children who are attracted by their dogs often become friends with the child having the dog.
Dogs also help children have improved motor skills. According to a 2010 study, children who had dogs worked out for over 11 minutes per day; while the others didn’t. This short span of exercise is helpful in honing the physical strengths and motor skills of children.1
A study conducted by American Academy of Pediatrics revealed that children who have contact with pet dogs and cats at an early age are healthier and are less prone to developing asthma. Their immune system is stronger than kids without pets.2
It has also been observed commonly that children with pets confide in their animal companions to share their secrets. Pets provide non-judgmental support and attention to children. This behavior leads to higher self-esteem in children.
Pet Health Council reports about children having pets that “Children are often more confident in performing tasks they find difficult with an animal simply because the animal does not care if mistakes are made, nor will the child be afraid of looking silly in front of the animal” (culled from Pet Health Council).
So, the mutual sharing of physical energy and the provision of emotional support by the dog, leads to a stronger bond between children and dogs. Dogs are quite playful, loving and accepting in nature. They are fun-loving and entertaining, traits that match with children perfectly!
Note: If your dog has anxiety problems, consider giving him melatonin after consulting the vet. To know more about the uses of melatonin, read this.
About James Shore
James Shore is a part-time dog-trainer and dog behavior consultant. He is a professional freelancer with years of experience in dog training. He is interested in finding out fun ways to handle dog behaviors, specifically, Labradors – in order to help dog-owners enjoy their companions at all times. His pet-passion led him to develop Labrador Training HQ to help people.
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