The decision to bring a dog into your home should not be taken lightly – regardless of which kind of breed it is. It is important to discuss the options with your partner and with your children to avoid confusion in the future. It should be seen as a family responsibility, rather than heaping the duties upon one person. At a time when an increasing number of dogs are being abandoned by their owners, have a good think before you choose to adopt one. Having said that, having a dog at home is highly beneficial for children and can play a big role in their personal development.
Playing with a dog is a natural stress-buster. Research has shown the positive effects that come with having a dog at home. When a child is feeling stressed or worked up by something that has happened in school, a dog is a soothing companion that takes their mind off what has happened. Parents aren't always the first people children turn to when they are distressed. Sometimes a little quiet time with their dog – an unjudgemental listner and giver of unconditional love is what they need.
Keeping a dog at home also compels children to step outside more – be it to play with their dog or to take them for a walk. What may begin as a child being badgered by the dog to come outside and play, will eventually turn into a habit for the child. They will internally feel the need to go out and play with their dog and soon it will become a part of their routine. Giving your child the responsibility of walking the dog also helps them understand the role they play as a part of the family. It will teach your child to follow a routine and responsibility that comes with caring for another being.
Lastly, caring for a dog helps develop nurturing skills in children, teaching them to think about others as well. Children, especially boys, are increasingly told to follow the male social construct and be 'strong' and 'brave'. Being in charge of a dog also pushes them to be nurturing and caring, building a sense of empathy in them. Spending time with dogs also boosts a child's immunity, making them less susceptible to allergies and infections.
Having a dog at home inculcates all of these beliefs in your child, making them more responsive to the needs of others.