Dogs and Kids, Happy Together

Dogs and Kids, Happy Together

By: Judy Hamontre, AVHS Volunteer

I was fortunate to have a wonderful childhood, but it became even richer when at age 6, a border collie pup I named Tammy came into my life.  She and I grew up together playing, laughing and cuddling.  She made me feel happy, secure and loved.  She taught me responsibility and compassion.  She was my best buddy.

Such is the beauty of a dog in a child’s life.  Research shows the benefits are numerous.

Dogs provide constant companionship through the ups and downs of children’s lives.  They raise their spirits and make them feel supported.

Several researchers found that children often say they go to their pets for comfort when they feel sad, angry or afraid because their pets listen and make them feel  unconditionally accepted while adults may judge and criticize.

Children with dogs are less likely to develop the illness of depression that plagues so many young people today.  The “only child” who has a dog is less lonely.

Petting a dog has been shown to lower stress.  Studies have shown that children’s anxiety levels decrease when reading aloud to a dog which is why programs like “Reading to Rover” have become so popular.

Playing with a dog makes a child happy because it raises levels of serotonin and dopamine which calm the mind and elevate the mood.

Children with dogs have been proven to be healthier.  Playing with their pets raises their levels of activity and takes them outside.  Exercise becomes fun.

Studies have found that babies raised in close contact with a pet get sick less often in their first year of life because exposure to pet dander and the microbes it carries improve babies’ developing immune systems.  Research has also found that children who grow up with dogs experience a reduced risk of allergies.

Some research suggests that children with dogs have better cognitive skills because they talk to their pets giving commands and praise.  Their speaking and social skills are also better.

Caring for a dog teaches a child responsibility, builds self esteem and develops compassion and selflessness.

The tasks of providing food and water and walking the dog make a child accountable for her pet while building her own confidence and self esteem by acting in a responsible way. The child develops empathy and compassion by caring for her furry friend.

Many studies have revealed that children who had pets were more empathetic toward others because they learned at an early age how to care for and nurture a dependent animal.  They learn selflessness and that the world is not just about them.

Growing up with a dog can enrich a child’s life emotionally, physically, and socially.  Bringing together a good child-dog match and teaching both how to behave with each other can be a wonderful gift from parents to child.

I am still grateful for my best buddy, Tammy.


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