by Soojin Um
Staff Writer

There’s almost nothing more Norman Rockwellian than children with dogs. In fact, the master painter produced many paintings that featured boys and girls with their dog. So, what makes growing up with a dog such an iconic rite of passage for young people? It could be because dogs teach us how to be good people, and the younger you start, the better. Here are some reasons why kids benefit from having a dog as a growing up partner.
One of the biggest benefits kids receive when growing up with a dog is the learning of social skills. The most important one is that of empathy. We learn to care about another life. Because dogs can’t speak to us, we learn to be in tune with their feelings through subtle gestures, looks, and sounds. We can sense when something is wrong or if they’re agitated. We know when they’re happy. We can even tell the difference between the dogs needing to go outside or if they’re just hungry. These are skills that will be very important when the child grows up and forms human relationships. Kids who learn these skills early on are better able to put themselves into another person’s shoes, and that’s a key ingredient in becoming a socially and emotionally mature adult.
Dogs love to run in the park, play fetch, chase cats and rabbits, and pretty much everything else that requires going all out. They have lots of energy, enough to match any child. While that may be a little hectic around the house, you can be sure that your kids are getting plenty of exercise. This is especially important in this day and age where the notion of kids playing outside is almost an outdated relic confined to history books. Dogs need plenty of exercise, and so do children. It seems dogs and kids are the perfect match, then. Not to mention, you can join in on the play too. It’s not just dogs and children that can use exercise. Make playtime an activity for the whole family, and you’ll grow healthier and stronger together.
Having a dog will teach your kids responsibility as well. You can make it part of the deal: if the kids want a dog, then they have to chip in on taking care of it. It’s also a great social teaching tool because the children can discuss and negotiate who does what and when. On the other hand, if the child is an only child, the dog can serve as a surrogate younger sibling. Like an older brother or sister, the child can learn to take care of the dog, manage the dog’s behavior, and be a pillar of strength for the dog to rely on. Through that process, kids can learn how to be loving, compassionate leaders.
We went over the many “logical” and “scientific” reasons why dogs are good for kids. What we have not discussed is the pure joy that a dog brings to any family. Why are dogs good for kids? Because dogs make kids happy, it’s as simple as that. Our canine friends just know how to make any situation brighter. Their positive energy is absolutely infectious, as any dog parent knows. It is this energy that will bring a smile of joy to any child. What more reasons could you need?

As all canine lovers know, dogs are miracles. We’ve been through thick and thin together for 30,000 years. Now, it’s time for the next generation of this incredible partnership to come together and carry the torch. There’s so much they can teach our children. The benefits of a healthy lifestyle and social development are immense. You could even say, your kids were raised by wolves. While people laugh, deep down, you will know it’s true.

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