The prospect of adding a furry friend to your family may feel intimidating. Along with the kisses and cuddles, sustaining a dog-friendly household involves a seemingly endless list of care-taking responsibilities, from daily walks to routine feedings to the occasional tattered couch cushion. In the early phases of pursuing local animal shelters, you may not feel convinced that you or your family are up to the commitment. That said, it’s critical to keep several factors in mind before officially adding a furry friend to the family holiday card.
Being a responsible pet owner requires time, money, patience, physical space, and planning. As a parent, it’s vital to consider how a dog will fit in with your children. Are they old enough to understand how to handle a dog properly? Will they share in the responsibility of caring for a pet? Passing a mental checklist will enable you to feel confident in your decision to add a new member to the family. However, despite the challenges involved in puppy ownership, the benefits are well worth the occasional inconveniences.
Choose a kid-friendly breed
Once you feel confident that your household is ready for a canine companion, you’ll need to research kid-friendly breeds. Some kid-friendly breeds include Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Poodles, Irish Setters, and Vizslas. Overall, retrievers tend to be athletic but equally patient and sweet-tempered dogs, making them perfect companions for a family with kids.
There are several different types of retrievers on the market, with the Labrador Retriever being the most popular dog breed in the United States for 28 years in a row. For those who don’t identify as dog breed specialists, there are two different types of Labrador Retrievers: the English Labrador and the American Labrador.
At their core, there isn’t much difference between English & American Labradors. However, English Labradors tend to be calmer and more laid back, ideal for homes with smaller kids who aren’t quite old enough yet to match a more athletic dog’s energy and activity levels. No matter what family-friendly dog breed you select, your little ones can derive many emotional and physical benefits from growing up in a home with a furry friend by their side.
Dogs teach responsibility
If you’re looking for the perfect opportunity to teach your kids how to be more responsible, owning a dog can certainly check that box. Assigning a care-taking task to each family member will divide the responsibility of caring for your dog family-wide, making caring for your pup a family affair and a collaborative effort. Rotating the duties every week offers curious little ones the opportunity to experience different aspects of dog ownership. These caretaking tasks could be as small as feeding your dog a meal or as big as taking your dog on a walk. By involving every family member in your pup’s care, your children will learn firsthand how rewarding it is to care for and love a living creature.
Caring for a dog boosts self-esteem
Taking part in caring for your dog will also help your children feel more confident. Accomplishing a task as small as placing a bowl of food on the floor lends children a sense of competence and helps them understand how important it is to care for other living creatures. Looking after a dog also instills selflessness in young children, allowing them to mature into compassionate and empathetic individuals.
Families with dogs get more exercise
While it’s essential to make sure your dog is healthy and happy, owning a dog can also help the human members of your family unit stay physically fit. Without a furry friend, it can be hard to find the motivation to get out of the house and get moving. However, with a dog itching to play a game of fetch or burn off steam on a morning walk, it’s easier to put down the screens and go outside to play.
Generally speaking, families with dogs tend to be more likely to meet their daily physical activity recommendations, which puts your kids and loved ones at a lower risk for obesity and cardiovascular disease.
Dogs keep everyone mentally healthy
Exercise is not the only health benefit a dog provides. Caring for a dog can also help your family cope with stressors and life events. Dogs introduce a playful element into the household that promotes a more positive emotional state. Additionally, having the companionship of a dog can lessen feelings of loneliness and provide comfort.
Cuddling a dog brings down stress levels by releasing the hormone oxytocin in the brain, relieving anxieties, and fostering a calmer mood. Dogs are great therapy and support dogs if you have a child with special needs, as well.
Dogs help children develop social skills
Children often talk to their pets, so owning a dog can help little ones accelerate their language acquisition and improve their communication skills. When walking your dog outside, strangers interested in your canine companion may approach you, providing your child with ample opportunity for your child to refine their communication skills.
Beginning readers can also boost their confidence by reading to a dog. Though they may not understand what your child is saying, your dog’s contentment at having their young human companion around will boost their confidence and, in turn, encourage them to continue improving their reading skills.
Raising children in a dog-friendly home provides so many long-lasting benefits to your entire family. While there is great responsibility involved in adopting a dog, the challenges pale in comparison to the value a dog can bring to your children’s development. That said, nurturing an unbreakable bond with a furry companion can only enhance your children’s lives.