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4 valuable lessons that dogs can teach to our children

Children Tags: dog ownership, dogs and children, pet ownership

There are lots of benefits to be had from pet ownership, but one of the most overlooked aspects of bringing a pet into the home is the profound impact that it can have on your family. Bringing a four legged friend into your home can have a powerful effect on your children, teaching them valuable lessons that can help them develop into well-rounded, caring individuals.

How to be responsible
The first and most obvious lesson that pet ownership teaches us is the need to be responsible. Unlike toys and games, dogs are living, breathing, sentient beings with extensive wants and needs that need to be met. By explaining this to your children, and leading by example, you can teach them something very important. If you can introduce the daily tasks of feeding, playing with, grooming and exercising their dog in the right way then they will begin to see that owning a dog is a privilege rather than a chore.

How to enjoy the great outdoors
Owning a dog is a great excuse to get out of the house and lead a more active lifestyle. Dogs need plenty of exercise and quite often families who own pets are more likely to spend time outside exploring than those who do not. If your child is responsible for taking your dog outside for walks then they will learn very quickly how to entertain themselves. Running together and playing games like tug of war and fetch will keep them busy and at the very least take them away from their computer or TV screen for a little while each day.

How to be more social
Some studies have shown that children who form a strong bond with their dogs are likely to have better social abilities and a greater perception of the feelings of others. There is also evidence to suggest that owning a dog can have a positive impact on children with particularly low confidence or self-esteem. Children who may otherwise be anxious and scared of making mistakes can do their daily chores such as filling up the food bowl, or helping to groom their pet without the fear of being scolded, or laughed at if they do something the wrong way. Extended family and teachers can also use the child’s love of their dog to start conversations with children who are otherwise quiet and shy.

How to forgive
One of the most profound lessons that can be taught to children (and adults) by owning a dog is the power of forgiveness. Many people who take in rescue dogs learn quickly that no matter what a dog has been subjected to by humans in the past they do not hold a grudge. They may be weakened and emotionally scarred but they do forgive.  Dogs teach us that everyone deserves a second chance, and even when your dog has broken your child’s favourite toy or eaten their birthday cake, chances are they will find it very difficult to hold it against them for long.

For more tips and advice articles regarding dog ownership, behaviour therapy and more please visit our website or call us on 0116 244 2455.

Dr Shahad Mohammed
Veterinary Physiotherapist
National Association of Veterinary Physiotherapists
Dr Shahad Mohammed