Growing up with a dog helps kids learn social skills, impulse control, and even improve their self-esteem. Each stage of a dog’s life has so much to give to our wonder years and contributes significantly in the character development of kids (and adults, alike). In this guest post, our Greek friend, Virginia Kalfa shares 9 Reasons Why Every Kid Should Grow Up With A Dog.
1. Dogs help kids learn important social skills – Dogs teach children to responsible in order to be able to take care of them. They teach kids to “read” the feelings and needs of those around them – the idea of ‘sharing’, to be social, and to function in a group. No books can teach kids the importance of friendship, understanding, loyalty and honesty, like a dog can.
2. Babies who have dogs at home are less likely to have the respiratory illness. A research by Kuopio University Hospital, Finland, found that babies who lived with dogs during their first year were one-third more likely to avoid respiratory illness and infection than their non-dog-owning counterparts. They consider this to be a result of dogs causing positive exposure to germs, increasing the babies’ immune systems to prevent sickness.
2. Dogs help young readers gain confidence Children who are learning to read often get self-conscious reading aloud around other people, but they don’t have that same anxiety around animals. Reading to a dog is the perfect way for kids to gain confidence.
3. Kids with dogs have less cases of allergies and asthma. According to a study published in Clinical & Experimental Allergy, scientists have found that kids who grow up around dogs are 50% less likely to develop allergies and asthma than those who grow up without a dog.
4. Dog owners have healthier hearts. Dogs enhance the cardiovascular health of their humans. Being around a dog can lower your stress, blood pressure, and heart rate, leading to a healthier heart and a longer life.
5. Kids with dogs get more exercise Dogs make great companions for physical exercise, and they need to be played with. So the kids can kiss goodbye to their Playstations every once in a while and thus lead an active lifestyle.
6. Dogs help reduce stress in kids with Autism. According to a study conducted by The University of Montreal, the stress hormones of a child with an autism spectrum disorder are dramatically reduced when living with a trained service dog.
7. Dogs always take the blame for eating the homework. Yeah, we all know that 🙂
8. Dogs make kids look even cuter 🙂 And to think of that, dogs are the perfect filter any photo needs. Just add a dog and you need not say Cheese 🙂
9. Dogs teach the kids on how to be a better person, to care, respect, to love nature, to rejoice with the small joys of life and realize how little you need, in order to be happy. Even at the end they teach you to reconcile with the idea of death and loss. But, above all they teach us, real unconditional love.
I could add up further 20 reasons why every kid should grow up with a dog but in the end there’s one that suffices it all – dogs help your kids become the best version of themselves.
The dog who made me the woman I am today, her name was Donna.
I can’t remember our first meeting, but I’m sure that we were staring at each other full of questions and curiosity. I was an infant when my father brought her home and she was only 3 months older than me. She was beautiful and playful. As you can imagine I didn’t take part in her training and her care but no worries, my parents had experience about how to raise a dog. On the other hand, Donna was important in the way I grew up. As a kid I was full of energy, I used to play with my sister or do things with my parents, but when nobody wanted to pay attention to me, there was always Donna. My forever friend, nanny, guardian.
“The best way to get a puppy is to beg for a baby brother—and they’ll settle for a puppy every time.” ―Winston Pendleton
She had her own toys and she was sharing them with me, so I was sharing my toys with her too. I didn’t care if my teddy bear ended bitten and torn, all that mattered was to play and have fun together. Every summer we used to visit my grandparents at the village. I knew that she loved the country house. She was spending her time exploring, smelling everything in the fresh air, getting enthusiastic with simple things, watching the rest of the village feeling that she protects us.
As I was growing up, I started helping with her baths, her walks, her feeding. Day by day I realized that I could also take care of her, understand her. I could recognize when it was time for her walk, when it was time to play and when she wanted to be alone. The best part of my day was returning from school. She was extremely happy every single time and she had a special way to express it, jumping on me and around me, like she was trying to hug me. So I knew I was doing it right, I was important to her and she truly loved me.
During my meals she was lying next to me, watching me. As a response to her loyalty, I’d give her some delicious “treats” when nobody could see us! It was our little secret. Every afternoon, when she was back from her walk with my dad, I was trying to welcome her with the same excitement to show her that she was important to me too. I loved her more. At nights, the last thing she was doing was to take a caress from everyone, ending her day lying next to my bed. She was so calm ’cause of the family gatherings that if you concentrated and followed her breathing you could instantly sleep peacefully. That was our daily routine, and we were growing up together day by day, year by year.
Donna left us when I was fourteen years old. She was at her favorite place when she said “goodbye”, our country house. I knew that she had a life full of joy and love. But still, it was so difficult for me. For a long time, I couldn’t find the strength to visit that house. I couldn’t remember a moment in my life without Donna in it. I didn’t have memories without her. I can’t thank Donna enough for the woman that she made me.
Thirteen years later, I have Peru and the journey of living with a dog continues. I have read so many articles and studies about the benefits of growing up with a dog, maybe so did you, but believe me, every time I read something like this I feel grateful that I had the chance of this personal experience. And this experience, I believe every child should have. So dear parents, Don’t you want your child grow up with such an important friend? I know you may be wondering if having a dog would add to the mayhem that bringing up a kid can be but believe me, a dog is like a kid, in fact the best that there is.