Pets, especially dogs, are an integral part of our lives. 8 out of 10 people living in the States have currently or had previously a dog. Dogs are important in children’s lives not only just furry and lovely creatures that endow us with consolation and warmth that many even fellow people may be deprived of, but they have a strong influence on the development of several aspects of the human creature. Sometimes dog relationship can be ranked higher than human for its comfort and support.
Let’s take a look on the skills that interaction with dogs develops in children, for the starter:
· Caring attitude
· Self esteem
· Improved social skills
· Physical activity
What interests animal behaviorists and shrinks is the impact that dogs have on children’s social skills. Let’s not forget that we humans are pack mammals as well and we need human compassion, support and interaction in general.
What can social benefits do we get from dogs?
· Dogs provide company and endow us with the feeling of well being. Simply, even you are living alone but with a dog, you have a soul to take care after that keeps you occupied and keeps away from negative thinking.
· Dogs lessen the feeling of loneliness and give the sense of purpose. Having a pet that needs constant care provides a feeling of fulfillment.
· Ice breaking or a social lubricant – name it whatever you may wish but the message here is clear. Having a dog around means the necessity to go outside. When visiting a vet and walking in the park, you meet many opportunities to meet and talk with other people. Studies show that people walking with a pet have more encounters with other people. A dog can be a trigger for interaction between children. There are special classes when children meet dogs and end up playing with each other in a company.
· A stimulus for education. The better we are taught the better we understand the world around us and our place in it. The mutual trust and responsibility that come with pet are the few of the skills that children learn. Children with learning difficulties channel their attention and responsiveness into studying.
· The responsibility for own actions and words is one of the greatest qualities that children can learn. But the responsibility a child has for her pet must be appropriate according to his/her age. At the of three, a child can help to fill food bowls; at five he can do basic grooming tasks and help with cleaning pet’s living area. When reaching ten tears, children can walk with dogs around the district and as the teen years approach, the child completely assumes the bulk of responsibility for keeping a pet.
Because of the bond that a dog and a child develop between them, a dog fills the role of comforter. Moreover, the dog is always more welcoming and willing to interact than any other person may be. This is how dogs help children with social troubles overcome themselves and get back to normal life with trusting other people.
Bringing a dog into the family is not a decision that is made lightly. Parents are the ones who will be responsible for the dog’s welfare so expecting the success to appear in mean time is impossible as the troubled child needs some time to get used to having a living creature around. We may be beating about the bush with the information above, but there is some precise information from studies carried out on purpose to show the impact that dog has on human socializing. Megan Mueller, Ph. D., a developmental psychologist and research assistant professor at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University says that results of the research suggest that the quality of the relationship between a child and a dog can be more significant than the presence of an animal in child’s life in general.
The study published in the Applied Developmental Science covered more than 500 young adults at the age of 18-26. The study surveyed people’s attitude towards the animals and interaction with them, as well as their general characteristics. The results of this research suggest that people who claimed to care for animals better showed also a greater involvement in their communities and desire for leadership. In addition, the more attached the person was to the animal, the more empathetic he/she was. As you see, this research covered teenagers and young adults. Here’s another research made after which we’ll present you the conclusion. In 2011, a study described in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, showed that pet owners (also applicable to dog owners) showed greater self-esteem, were less lonely, were more extraverted and were less preoccupied than those who had no pets.
Did you pay attention to the first research stating the survey age group? At the age of eighteen people are likely to have their own sets of emotional responses and judgments set. They choose their beliefs, religion, interests, make conclusions based on own experiences – they are formed personalities or closer to that. However, children are not ready for that – they need proper socializing in order to elaborate own pyramid of necessities, to set future priorities and choose own path in the future. Until that they have one problem – they the entrance to that. And this is when dogs show their best helping children get involved into ordinary life full of optimism and pessimism, good and bad sides. Only by entering the stage of assessment, a child can build confidence and become the person he or she eventually gets to be. If the child has no common grounds with his mates, this is the best moment for you to get a dog.