Dogs are great pets for both kids and adults. They’re social animals that can be loyal friends and inspire us to show caring and compassion. Benefits of owning a dog include better health, improved mood and a sense of purpose. Being a dog owner is a serious responsibility, but it can make you and your children better people.
Benefits of Owning a Dog
Research studies have repeatedly shown that pets bring much to the lives of their owners. Dogs have some surprising health and emotional benefits that make them particularly great pets.
1. Lower Risk of Allergies and Asthma in Children
Dogs carry various bacteria, and some of these can protect the respiratory system. Medical research in the last 15 years shows that owning a dog can lower the potential for children to get allergy symptoms and asthma if they’re exposed to a dog at a very young age. Kids were also shown to be less likely to get eczema, a skin condition associated with allergies.
2. Lower Risk of Illness
The germs that dogs carry can actually make you and your family healthier. The body’s immune system works effectively when it has something to fight, and that’s what dogs give you. This can also lead to less severe illnesses.
3. Lower Heart Rate and Blood Pressure
Researchers have found that dog ownership can increase the likelihood that someone will survive a heart attack. In general, taking care of a canine can improve the health of your heart and help you maintain healthy blood pressure levels. Spending time with a dog also lowers cholesterol, which prevents heart disease.
4. Cancer Awareness
Dogs have been known to detect cancer. If your pet repeatedly bites, licks or sniffs at a lump or mole, it’s probably a good idea to get it checked because this could save your life. Some canines can even detect cancer in internal organs, such as the lungs, stomach and bladder.
5. Low Blood Sugar Awareness
Cancer apparently isn’t the only medical condition that dogs notice. Research has found that canines can sense when a diabetic is heading for an episode of low blood sugar. This can prevent dizziness and confusion, falls due to lack of coordination, fainting and seizures.
6. More Exercise
It’s practically impossible to avoid getting exercise when you own a dog. Even the most sedentary breeds need to be walked at least once in a while. Dogs are a great excuse for making the time to at least take a 30-minute walk per day. For kids, it helps them develop the habit of being active daily. For adults, regular dog-walking keeps the body fit into old age, leading to less doctor visits, greater mobility and greater independence.
7. Improved Mood
Based on research, dog owners experience less depression and anxiety. Even the most independent canines need to be fed, walked, cleaned and occasionally taken to the vet for checkups. Resistance to activity is a hallmark of depression, and that’s impossible to maintain for long with a dog.
Also, a dog demands constant love and attention, and this gets serotonin and dopamine flowing through the brain. Even just petting your dog or watching it play does this. These chemicals make you feel good and calm you.
8. More Social Interaction
Friendly dogs aren’t shy about approaching strangers and can introduce you to new people. Canine behaviors, such as sniffing and barking, make great conversation starters. You’ll find it easy to trade notes on good dog care with neighbors.
9. Emotional Maturity and Responsibility in Children
A dog can help your kids learn to care for a dependent. Children connect well with a pet’s emotions. By showing sensitivity to a dog’s needs, kids can learn to behave the same toward the needs of the humans around them. This will serve them well later in life too.
Children also learn responsibility. Some of a pet’s needs are immediate. Throughout life, people need to prioritize, and dog ownership helps children learn that it’s sometimes necessary to set aside their desires to meet the needs of others. This encourages them to become better parents when they get older.
10. Greater Sense of Safety
Not all breeds are barkers, but if you get one, your dog can make you and your children feel safer. House thieves don’t like barking dogs. This is especially beneficial if one parent frequently goes out of town. He or she can rest easier knowing that the canine in the house will give burglars a scare.
How To Choose the Right Dog
With all of the benefits of owning a dog, the next step is to consider how to choose the right one for your family. When making that decision, call a meeting so that you can talk about how a canine can fit into your circumstances and learn what’s important to each family member.
If you have other pets at home, then that’s the first thing you need to talk about. Make sure the dog you bring home can get along with other animals. A warring cat and dog, for instance, is an unpleasant and dangerous situation.
Also, different dog breeds have different needs when it comes to physical activity. Energetic dogs may need more than one walk per day and even one or more daily play sessions. Dogs who don’t get the activity they need become unhappy and destructive, so make sure you can meet a dog’s need for exercise.
Next, consider the size of the dog. This can matter to very young kids, who may be scared of a large dog such as a Newfoundland. Show your kids some photos of large, medium and small dogs and notice their reactions. Also, larger dogs may feel cramped in small living spaces such as apartments. While a yard isn’t always necessary, an active dog will be much happier with a park or woods near home where you can let it loose.
Most children can’t resist a puppy, but make sure your family has the time and motivation to train it. As with children, you need to be firm and consistent in the lessons you teach a young dog. Misbehavior in a puppy needs to be dealt with immediately, so make sure you have the patience to stop what you’re doing and give it your attention.
Finally, get a dog from a shelter or breeder rather than an ad in the paper or a neighbor. These caretakers have expertise in assessing a canine’s personality and needs. Don’t neglect to let your kids visit with the dog in a place it’s familiar with and watch how it interacts with them. Aggressive behavior that’s clearly not just play could foretell a dangerous situation for you or your children.
Best Dogs for Kids
Not all dogs do well with children. Kids can be rambunctious and rough with animals without meaning to do harm, and some breeds have trouble dealing with that. While it’s true that every dog has a unique personality, many animals of a single breed share certain characteristics. Consider these seven kid-friendly dogs identified by experts.
These small dogs can live over 12 years. Beagles are also easy to care for with their short coats. They’re playful, affectionate and energetic. Training these dogs, however, could be a challenge.
A medium-sized dog that typically lives anywhere between eight and 12 years, the basset hound is a great choice if you’re looking for a canine with a mellow and amiable personality. It has a loud bark but doesn’t generally bite.
The Irish setter is a large dog that typically lives between 12 and 15 years. If you choose this dog, you’ll be dealing with an easygoing personality. Make sure you have time for long walks and play sessions because the Irish setter is an active dog. The breed is trainable if you have patience.
Males can get quite large, but females are a more manageable size. Collies have a gentle nature and are easy to train. Be aware that their thick coats require regular attention and may not be suitable for family members prone to allergies.
This is a social dog, so make sure you won’t have to leave your Labrador retriever alone frequently or for long periods. The breed is loving and energetic, needing plenty of daily exercise. The Labrador retriever can grow to a fairly large size and has a life expectancy of 10 to 14 years.
These gentle giants weigh 100 pounds or more. Affectionate and protective, they require regular exercise and grooming. You shouldn’t have trouble training these dogs because they love to please their owners.
This Hungarian breed has a calm and loyal personality. It has a short coat with no undercoat, making it a great choice if you have family members who suffer from allergies. It’s a medium-sized dog that lives long. Make sure you can allow this canine the physical activity and training it requires.
Dog ownership is a unique and amazing experience. These four-legged animals give so much to human beings. The benefits of owning a dog include a boost in health, happiness and life purpose. Just make sure you choose the right one for your family so that all members, including the newest edition, are happy with the arrangement.