As Johnny Depp has said, “The only creatures that are evolved enough to convey pure love are dogs and infants.”

Dogs and children can be the best of friends when raised together. They not just offer each other companionship, but also learn from each other. Dog companionship helps improve a child’s social skills and encourages them to be responsible.

In this article

Benefits of children growing up with pets

Dogs and newborn babies

How should children interact with dogs

How should children not interact with dogs

Research has found that children living with pets are more likely to:
  1. Have better mental health

The best thing about the companionship of a dog is that they make children happy! Whether it’s running around or playing with toys, regular interaction and playtime with dogs is found to release more happy hormones in kids. These hormones, serotonin and dopamine are the building blocks of positive feelings and brighten the mood. Children who feel happy throughout the day are more likely to have better mental and physical health.

Additionally, having a constant companion provides children with a huge sense of comfort when they know that they always have their pet to turn to when they feel happy, sad, or upset. Petting dogs has shown to relieve stress and help children relax.

  1. Be more physically active

Taking a walk or playing in the backyard- children engage in a lot more physical activity with animals than alone. Running around, chasing each other or simply playing with toys makes them more physically and mentally active.

Even after a stressful day at school, children can come home to their pet and feel rejuvenated at the sight of them. Their cute faces just do the trick in getting children to play with them and forget all about their long day.

  1. Be more responsible

Caring for the dog continuously and feeding them food and water at regular intervals makes children more responsible. They also develop empathy and compassion by caring for their pet. Sharing their toys with their furry friend teaches them sharing and being responsible for others’ needs.

While caring for a dog is a great way to teach children responsibility and help them grow into responsible adults, it’s extremely important to teach both your furry babies how to react around each other.

Dogs and newborn babies

When your newborn baby comes home, don’t force the dog away from them. Dogs are naturally curious and the constant crying and the smell of the newborn is bound to make them wonder what the addition to the family is. Before it starts to stress or upset them, let your dog see, hear and smell the new baby, but under very strict supervision. When they understand that there’s nothing to be worried about, the baby won’t be stressful for the dog anymore. It’s important to never leave the baby alone with the dog no matter how safe you think that might be. If your dog shows signs of discomfort at the arrival of the baby, it’s time to consult a canine behaviour expert to ensure there are no signs of trouble.

Dogs and infants

When your child grows up to be an infant, s/he might not understand dog behaviour. They will find it difficult to understand an animal’s needs. For this reason, you must never leave your infant alone with your dog and teach your baby to not approach the dog on their own. Additionally, teach them to not disturb the dog while eating, sleeping, playing or in sickness or injury. Keep both of them under your strict supervision at all times.

How should children interact with dogs

As your child grows up, teach them the right way to interact with your dog.

  1. Teach them to be polite towards the dog.
  2. Help them recognize signs of fright or distress in the dog.
  3. Teach them to not be overly physical with the dog and avoid kisses and cuddles.
  4. Play harmless games like hide and seek.
  5. Help your child teach the dog some simple training tricks like rolling over or responding to their name being called. This will help strengthen their bond and the dog will associate more positively with the child.
How should children not interact with dogs

As a child, your baby is most likely to react around a dog as they will around another baby. This is where you need to play the biggest role and teach your child the difference between a dog and a human being. Here is how kids should never interact with dogs or any other animal around.

  1. Taking their food or toys.
  2. Bothering them when they’re eating or sleeping.
  3. Grabbing their tail or ears.
  4. Climbing on top of them.
  5. Hugging and petting them all the time.
  6. Screaming and shouting at them.
  7. Hitting them.
  8. Making fun of them.
  9. Feeding them human chocolates or food.
  10. Harm them physically.

Teaching your child to be kind to animals is teaching them to be kind to all people. This is why most families bring home a pet especially to accompany their child and encourage him or her to grow up to be a better human being. A dog teaches you kindness, sympathy, compassion, responsibility and most of all, love. When your furry baby and your baby get along well together, they both learn about each other’s behaviour and grow together to become the best of friends!


Psychology Today


Indian Express

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