Our children have always grown up around dogs with both sets of grandparents owning dogs as well as many friends. Dogs have long been considered man’s best friend, but did you know that whether a dog, cat or hamster, a pet really will be your child’s best friend? In fact, far more than simply being a friend, a family pet will teach young children life skills as well as contributing to their development as they grow.
In an age when technology is dominating the lives of the young, a new campaign from Dogs Trust - ‘Get a Dog’ was launched in August this year to inspire families to put down the tablets and games consoles and start making technology-free memories with a dog! They surveyed parents and found that 44% think the dog is their child’s best friend and 93% of those who had a dog during their own childhood believe it enhanced it considerably.
As a best friend that is there for them 24/7, a pet will provide a confidant when they feel no one else will listen, a support that won’t judge them and comfort when they are upset or angry. Stroking and talking gently to our cats and dogs can increase oxytocin levels - the ‘happy hormone’ - increasing their mood whether they are upset or not. This in turn will also allow them to practice socialising and increase their verbal skills.
As well as being the perfect four-legged companion, a pet will provide children with a sense of responsibility. They will learn to care for something other than themselves, having to consider when they are hungry or need exercise, for example. It will be a fun learning experience but at the same time will teach simple tasks, from keeping their water or food bowl topped up to grooming them. As a result they will develop self-esteem from the praise they receive for looking after them.
A further 42% of the parents surveyed by Dogs Trust say their family gets more exercise if they have a dog. Not only are they outside as opposed to sitting in front of the TV or a computer game, they are also physically active, playing with the dog and taking them for walks. Studies have also shown that animals can boost academic skills, with pets being a far better reading companion for a child to practice with than an adult.
A survey by Sainsbury’s Bank Pet Insurance has found the benefits of bringing a cat or dog into the family, and observes that animals also enjoy having children in the household. The survey showed that twice as many pet-owning families say their pets seem much happier when the children are at home (20%), than when they are not (10%).
Heidi and this Cat were the best friends on our wigwam holiday a few years ago.
The benefits of having an animal in the home don’t stop with your children, as they will provide a more harmonious family dynamic and lower stress for everyone. So why not make a huge difference to your son or daughter’s childhood and have a positive impact on their development by introducing a pet to your family? Take a look at the dogs or cats for sale from Freeads, and take the first step towards finding your child’s new best friend!