What Kids Learn from Having a Dog

Mar 16, 2020     |      Sophie's Circle

A boy cuddling with his golden retriever.Although super adorable, playful, and cuddly, your adopted dog can be so much more than that for your family. This is especially true if you have children in your home. Adopt today and watch your loving canine help develop and expand these five learning skills in your kids.

Social Engagement 
The rules for social interaction are tricky for adults to navigate, much less children who are just starting to understand such concepts as verbal and nonverbal cues as well as the complexity of language skills. The great news is your dog can help. Children can learn how their tone of voice, body language, and commands impact their dog's behavior. They can observe the way their dog stops whatever he is doing and gives them a proper greeting. If they cross personal space boundaries, their dog will indicate his discomfort. Regarding playing with others, if they play games with their dog like fetch, they learn games with others can be loads of fun!

Keeping Your Commitment
While pets are excellent with social interaction training, they also teach valuable lessons about honoring your commitments and making the new dynamic work for you and for your pet. Dogs are great at showing their humans that they are learning what we expect of them by reading our body language and listening to our commands and tones during training, playtime, and walks. But, this learning process can take some time during the initial adjustment period. By spending time training their dog each day, children discover how spending that time bonding with their pet and receiving his trust in return can be the rewarding experience of a lifetime!

How to Care for Others
Of course, training is only one of the ways we care for our pets. When you bring your adopted canine into your home, the children are able to discover everything it takes to keep him safe, comfortable, and healthy. This includes proper nutrition, filled water bowls, exciting adventures together outdoors during potty times and walks, routine care appointments at the veterinarian, and, naturally, those snuggles we all love! 

Boundaries and Mutual Respect
On the other hand, sometimes we also have to learn about how to care for others in a way that still shows we respect their personal boundaries. Finding out what your dog likes and dislikes is part of the journey of owning a pet. Luckily, dogs are excellent at using cues to indicate what bothers them, what they tolerate, and what they thoroughly enjoy. For instance, some dogs do not care for young children pulling on their ears or tails. Others prefer to be left alone to eat. It is important to learn to appreciate everyone's differences and how to interact together in a way that allows everyone to feel respected.

Unconditional Love
Once those boundaries are discovered and respected, children are able to learn one incredible lesson they are not likely to forget - how to show unconditional love. Life can throw curve balls and provide plenty of ups and downs. Some of those tougher moments are caused by our own errors in judgment and some are beyond our control. Yet, through it all, a dog's love remains constant and true. Kids soon understand there is nothing they will ever do or say that will lessen their dog's affection for them nor the consistent sheer joy he experiences when they come home. 

Compassion and Empathy
Along with that dependable love, dogs also give children a chance to develop compassion and empathy skills. The training for this lesson starts by deciding to adopt a dog thereby saving him from a life without attention, security, balanced nourishment, and possibly death in some cases. It then continues to grow into an applicable understanding of showing kindness to those in need or those who are struggling as children learn what makes their dog sad and how they can help. 

How to Share
Perhaps best of all, children can watch their dogs share their unconditional love and teachable moments with others. Their dog's willingness to meet, play with, and receive attention from other humans is helpful in demonstrating to children that it is good to expand your circle of friends. It does not make their dog love them any less when he shares his attention with new friends. Therefore, they can feel equally safe sharing their friends at school and activities where other children are present.

In short, dogs can teach us a great deal about forming healthy relationships and being generous in our kindness towards others. If you are thinking of getting a dog for your home, consider adopting one from our list of displaced dogs. Then, enjoy the many loving rewards of owning a rescue dog that last for years to come!