Growing up with pets – aiding your child’s development

When chosen carefully, pets are a wonderful addition to any home and provide many well documented health benefits to adults and children alike. But did you know pet ownership can help your child’s development?

Pets are a great way to teach children responsibility. Even very young children can help out with feeding or refreshing a water bowl. By teaching children the skills required to care for an animal such as bathing and grooming, exercising and taking them to the vet, they are learning an invaluable lesson in responsibility they can take into later life. This added responsibility can also build a child’s self-esteem.

Caring for an animal also teaches children important nurturing skills with many studies showing children with pets are often more empathetic and have a more caring attitude towards others.

Pets can also be very comforting to children when they feel sad or afraid.  Research has found that patting or cuddling an animal can help people relax, providing children with coping strategies in difficult times.

In addition to mental health, pet ownership can also be good for a child’s physical health. As many dogs require a daily walk or run, it can be a great motivator to get kids outdoors and exercising.

Having a pet in the home can also teach children skills for being safe around animals. For example teaching your child about animal body language, how to identify threatening behaviour, and how and when to approach an animal, can all help to keep your child safe when they meet animals outside of the home.

And last, but by no means least, having an animal is just plain fun. What better reason to add an animal to your family than to bring joy and happiness to your child?

It’s important to remember when considering adding a pet to your home to do your homework first. It's easy to fall into the trap of ‘saving an animal’ that might not be suitable for your family. Not all dogs meet the needs of family pet so choose carefully and seek advice if unsure.

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