Creative Child

5 Reasons You Should Raise Your Child With a Pet

by Brittany Ferrell on Sep 18th, 2015

I had a fur baby long before I was granted a human baby. I like to think my husband and I cut our parenting teeth by raising our dogs together. We had to make many important decisions regarding our fur babies like how to provide them with a nutritious diet, how to incorporate exercise and play into their daily routines, and of course, how to effectively discipline those naughty little beasts. When we adopted our puppy, Gracie, we believed we would never be able to have children of our own. Lo and behold, Gracie soon became a “big sister” to a human baby and raising the two girls together has been the gift that keeps on giving.

Here is why you should absolutely, without a doubt, raise your child with a pet:

1. Pets teach your child responsibility.

My daughter is a toddler and therefore is under the impression that the world revolves around her and she is only partially incorrect. Yes, of course, she is the center of my universe, but I want her to grow up to become a contributing member of society. This starts with developing a sense of responsibility. We started with being responsible for picking up after ourselves…even if we only turn around and create a giant mess five nanoseconds later. Another way to build responsibility is to ask your child to help with the feeding, bathing, walking, and picking up after the family pet. These chores tend to be greatly appreciated by your pet and also teach your child the importance of everyone doing their part to keep the family unit running smoothly.

2. A pet keeps your child healthy!

You know the old adage about a dog’s mouth being cleaner than a human’s? Well, there might just be something to that! An article in the Huffington Post in 2012 (Pet Health Benefits: Study Shows Dogs And Cats May Make Kids Healthier by Amanda Chan) explains that having a pet actually helps keep your baby healthy, especially in the first year of life. A study conducted in Finland found that children raised with a pet had less incidences of respiratory and ear infections and were also prescribed fewer antibiotics. Scientists believe that pets help your child’s immune system mature more rapidly. I say bring on those slobbery kisses if they help keep my daughter from spending one minute longer in the pediatrician’s office than she has to!

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3. A pet helps your child develop a sense of compassion.

My daughter has worshiped the ground Gracie’s paws prance upon since the very moment we came home from the hospital. My daughter was instantly intrigued by this hairy creature and with curiosity comes a desire to investigate. Therefore, it became imperative that my husband and I show my daughter how to give Gracie “nice pets”. Yes, Gracie’s long, velvety ears do beg to be touched and Gracie happens to be extremely patient, but we want our child to grow up to be a compassionate and empathetic human being and that begins with her furry sibling.

It only took a few demonstrations of using soft, gentle strokes with our dog before our daughter realized that if she modeled this behavior, she would be rewarded with those wonderful slobbery kisses. If she was too rough, Gracie would get up and walk away. This was my daughter’s initiation to life’s golden rule, “Treat others the way you wish to be treated.”

Related Article: 5 Habits That Make Parenting Easier

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