If you were raised in a pet-free household, it’s easy to overlook what you missed out on. There are endless benefits kids can experience by growing up with pets, and some are commonly referenced, like an increased sense of responsibility.
Other benefits, though, are more unexpected.
Rover.com brainstormed – here are a few you might not know about:
An Educational Boost
Kids love to talk to their canine and feline companions, and they’re developing verbal skills in the process.
More importantly, the stress-reducing aspects of pet ownership go a long way. Children who have good coping skills and experience less stress have superior educational outcomes, and parents who want to maximize a child’s learning can use pet care as an educational vehicle. For instance, a child might measure a pet’s dinner, research a possible ailment, or plan a pet’s next outing.
There are endless ways that animals can teach children to overcome their fears. A friendly dog can help a shy kid make friends, and a cuddly cat could be the perfect companion for an anxiety-prone child. Many kids from pet-free homes are scared of dogs and cats, and these fears can develop into full-blown phobias if they’re not overcome by adulthood. Witnessing a pet’s everyday acts of bravery can help children take more risks, and adult guidance can further help them understand appropriate risk-taking.
Better Immune Systems
Children who are raised with dogs and farm animals have a lower incidence of asthma, and infants who spend time around dogs have a reduced risk of developing allergy-based illnesses. Plus, children who grow up with pets themselves are far less likely to develop pet allergies, so they’ll be able to enjoy all the other benefits of pet ownership throughout their lives!
Love of the Outdoors
Pets who spend significant time outdoors can transform a child’s experience of the outside world. If Fido is always excited for a hike, guess who else will be jumping up and down at the chance to go for a long, mountainous walk? In culcating a true passion for outdoorsmanship is one of the greatest gifts a parent can give, and there’s no better assistant than a tail-wagger.
Increased Family Bonds
When parent and child share the responsibility of caring for a pet, the bond between parent and child grows, too. Going for walks as a family, sharing care decisions, and simply relaxing with your pet or playing together are all activities that strengthen each of the relationships in the dynamic. The nurturing and compassion that children learn help them relate more fully to everyone they care about, and receiving a pet’s unconditional love also helps them stay open to love from others. There’s no better way to keep a family close than to incorporate a beloved pet into the mix.
Not sure yet whether a pet is right for your family? Consider becoming a pet-sitter, and you’ll start seeing the benefits for yourself. Before long, your child will be asking for a puppy…and you’ll have fewer reasons than ever to say no!
Nat Smith, Rover.com community member.