Benefits of Owning a Dog with Kids

Written by: Lindsay Giguiere



Time to read 4 min

Where do I start? Growing up with a dog or multiple dogs is the greatest for so many reasons. From the strong bond that exists to learning responsibility, kids and dogs go hand and hand, or rather paw and hand.

The Science

In a study by Australian scientists, children who grow up with dogs, compared to those without dogs, “were about 30 percent less likely to have conduct problems, 40 percent less likely to have difficulty relating to peers, and 34 percent more likely to show pro-social behaviour”. Yes, please.

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Other studies have concluded that growing up with pets is linked to higher self-esteem, cognitive development, and social skills. Again, yes, please.

There are several studies out there but watching your little one or your big one with a family pet is proof that the above is true.

Owning a Dog Means Responsibility and Management

Preparing our kids for the real world starts early and the skills they learn at a young age will create success in their future.

Whether it’s helping to feed the dog, taking the dog out, loving and training the dog, cleaning up after the dog, brushing the dog, or watching Mommy and Daddy care for the dog, kids from a very young age can be a part of the entire process. While dogs are fun, they’re living creatures and go beyond fetch.

Just like our kids depend on us, our dogs depend on us. The difference is as they age, they don’t become self-sufficient. Yes, they’re potty trained and sleep through the night, but whether they’re five months or five years, we still have to fill up their water and food bowls and take them out to potty. Owning a dog is not only a blessing, but a responsibility!

Time-management is such an important skill to teach our kids. Incorporating their doggy chores is something they need to fit into their busy schedule, no matter what. If a child has younger siblings, the oldest can manage the dog chores and ensure everyone is doing their jobs, without bossing them around of course. Yeah, right.

When kids are given responsibility and follow-through, it gives them confidence, a  sense of purpose, and a real understanding of commitment.

Physical Activity

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These days, our kid’s definition of activity is centered around technology. It’s up to us, the parents, to get them off their electronics and on a bike. Whatever your child’s interested in, something active is key. When you have a dog in the house, it’s so much fun watching everyone interact.

Running around with a dog is great exercise and very entertaining. Childhood obesity is a serious problem in our country and we need to keep our kids moving and teach healthy habits. Whether it’s chasing the dog in the backyard, or the other way around, walking the dog, or playing hide and seek with the dog in the house, it’s exercise without even realizing it.

Lower body weight and less screen time are wonderful perks of having your child grow up with a dog. It’s also not so bad for us adults who also have an addiction to technology.

We always think about little kids and dogs but when it comes to teenagers, one study from the University of Virginia, found that “teens from dog-owning families are more physically active than teens whose families don’t own a pet dog.” We all know teens love to sleep their day away but when the dog has to go, it has to go, especially a puppy.

It Feels Good

When we pet our dogs, our brain takes notice. Studies show that our levels of serotonin and dopamine increase when we caress and play with dogs. This means our stress levels, memory, and concentration increase. Why? It simply feels good when you interact with your dog. What’s better than getting greeted at the door by your furry friend who makes you feel like the most special person in the world, even though you just went outside to get the mail? Nothing.

There are so many amazing videos on social media where babies are napping with big, yet gentle furry dogs. It raises our “feel good” hormones just watching it. There’s something magical about kids and their dogs. Having a dog is a built-in activity for your kids that never gets old or too old to witness.

On-Demand Best Friend

There’s a sense of pride that comes along with owning and growing up with a dog. Kids see these animals as siblings. They play with them, share secrets with them, and they are there in good times and bad. There are no judgments, just wet kisses, and pure love.

When your child wakes up, that furry best friend is there. When there are scraped knees and  hard days at school, that furry best friend is there. That bond that exists between child and dog is beyond special and one that every child should experience.

If your kid is an only child, a dog can be extremely beneficial and fills that role of a sibling. From a child’s perspective, it’s a built-in best friend and pseudo sibling without any negatives. There’s no fighting over what to play, when to play, who does something better, feeling left out, bullying, mean comments, and fighting. While children definitely need the skills to handle these scenarios, it sounds pretty good to me.

Whether your child is an only child or doesn’t have many friends, a pup can combat loneliness and anti-social tendencies.

Dogs can bring so much joy into a child’s life and therefore into a family’s life. Aside from incredible memories, dogs teach our children valuable life lessons, from caring for another living creature to empathy, leadership, and what unconditional love truly means.

Pets are indeed a lot of work, requiring a lifelong commitment, considerable expenses, and dealing with occasional frustrations and messes. Interestingly, you might wonder if we're talking about dogs or our kids here? Both bring joy and responsibility, teaching valuable life lessons. But don't let that deter you! Welcoming one or multiple dogs into your home can lead to a happier and healthier household, with enduring benefits for all family members in the long run.