Dog's Benefits to Children
By Arlo the Hound with help from Honor Tarpenning
Too many people believe that when a new little human is on the way, it means that Fido’s gotta go. They ship him off to a shelter, give him away to a friend, or relegate him to the back yard. What these people don’t realize is that a pooch can be an excellent teacher and teaching tool for a child. Munchkins can learn all kinds of life lessons from the family dog.
What better way to teach your child how to be safe around dogs than to have a dog in the home? You have a constant instrument with which to demonstrate safe behavior around dogs. When he puts his face in the dog’s face, tell him why he shouldn’t. When he tries to take the dog’s toys from him, explain why it’s not a good idea. Teaching with your well-trained dog when you are around to offer constant supervision is a much, much safer alternative to sending an uneducated munchkin out into the world to encounter strange dogs without your watchful eyes. Read more about Dogs and Children Living in Harmony.
When children are heavy handed, loud, or just overly exuberant with a dog, the pooch will let them know. They might growl or they might just walk away and deprive the child of puppy play time. This teaches the child that a gentle nature and gentle touch are important when being affectionate with another living thing.
Strength and Confidence
As your children get older and are capable of delivering commands to the dog, they will quickly learn that he must be strong and confident, or most dogs just won’t listen. Furthermore, telling a dog to sit, and then watching the dog do what he was told, provides children with tons of confidence. Through this experience a child learns that despite being young and being limited in the opportunity to make his own life decisions, he can still make things happen.
Benefits of Companionship
Having a dog by one’s side teaches a child how good it feels to have a close friend, and how good it feels to have someone to depend on who also depends on them. This helps children understand the value of both making and maintaining true friendships.
A Feeling of Safety
A dog in the house can make a child feel much more secure. A dog can check in the closet for monsters and under the bed for the boogie man. A dog can comfort a child afraid of the dark, and make him feel that his home is protected by a watchful guardian. Also, in a very real way, it is amazing how even the most docile dog will react when his humans are in danger. Read about one Dog who Saved His Owner’s Life
The Needs of Others
A dog is a great way to teach a child that they are not the center of the universe, and that others have needs. The needs of a dog are much more basic and simple to explain than those of humans in our modern world. Dogs need food, water, sleep, shelter, and to go outside to go potty. These are basic concepts and the repercussions of their neglect are easy to make clear.
Once children are old enough to take part in the care of the family dog, they will learn about responsibility. Make a chart of your child’s jobs and put it on the fridge at munchkin level. Every time he feeds the dog, or picks up after him, or helps you feed him his heartworm pill, you can put a gold star on the chart together, signifying that he’s done his job. This gives the child a sense of accomplishment and responsibility.