There comes a time in every parents life when they hear the words “Mum / Dad… can we get a dog?”. And every parent worth their salt will think long and hard before answering. If this is your first time introducing a pet into the home you may (quite rightly) feel cautious about the prospect. How can you be sure that a dog would be a good fit for your household. And, more importantly, how do you know that your child is ready for the responsibility of owning a pet? While we understand the trepidation that many parents may feel, the good news is that if you feel ready to take a dog into the home, your child will (given the right support) rise to the challenge that a new pet represents.
What’s more, a dog can be a great vehicle for helping a child to build character, helping them to learn and mature as they grow. Here’s why…
A dog is a responsibility that they simply can’t shirk
Homework? They can always ditch it and do it on the bus to school in the morning. Mowing the lawn? Meh, it can wait. Cleaning their room? Expect a turnaround time of 4-6 weeks. The truth is that kids can procrastinate and shirk their responsibilities because the consequences are usually pretty… well… inconsequential. However, a living breathing creature is dependent upon them making them a responsibility that they just can’t shirk.
A dog teaches them empathy and helps their emotional intelligence
In order to get the most out of your relationship with your dog, you need to understand what motivates their behaviour and makes them think the way they do. This, combined with the need to put their pets before themselves, teaches kids the importance of empathy and helps them to develop emotional intelligence.
That’s a vital set of skills in the fast-changing world where the internet and social media can engender a self-cherishing mindset.
They learn discipline and restraint
Young children, when first seeing their new pet, will likely want to rush towards it and embrace it. But such an approach would terrify the dog and could potentially result in dire consequences. As a parent, you need to manage the introduction and teach your child a safe way to play with their new friend. This teaches them discipline and self-restraint.
A dog can be a useful tool to teach them about nutrition
Dogs are just like us. They need food to survive. And just like us, some of their food is more nutritionally rich than others. While there are some pet food UK manufacturers that value quality ingredients and nutritional balance, a lot of what’s on the shelves is low quality “junk food”. This can be a useful parable when teaching your child about the value of nutrition and helping them to see the importance of eating right.
A dog is a friend who will always be there for them
Finally, as your child grows and develops a network of friendships, they’ll learn some hard truths about their peers. They’ll learn that other kids can be selfish, they can say hurtful things, they can be unreliable and they can let them down. The good news is that your dog will always be there when your child needs them, lending them emotional support when they need it and teaching them the difference between conditional and unconditional love.