Owning a dog requires responsibility and commitment. Having kids help walk, feed, and groom their family dogs can teach them these valuable skills, as well as develop healthy self-esteem and empathy for others.
Domesticated dogs are dependent on humans for just about every aspect of life, so owners do not get to pick and choose when they want to take care of them. Kids find giving your dog a belly rub much more entertaining than picking up their poop on a walk, but when you raise a dog, you don’t get the fun one without the work of the other. Having kids learn that dogs require love and care every day teaches them about fully committing to things.
Routines and chores give kids responsibility. Making these activities about your family dog increases a kid’s accountability even more. For example, no one is very affected when a kid forgets to make their bed in the morning, but dogs will be hungry if someone forgets to feed them. There are many ways kids can learn responsibility by helping out around the house. Younger kids can help out around the house by refilling your dog’s water bowls, picking up your dog’s toys at the end of the day, brushing or combing their coats, and playing fetch. As they get older, kids can help feed them, train them, and take them for a walk or run.
Owning a dog teaches kids how to be conscious of others. Dogs have needs that must be met, and they don’t have a voice to speak up about it. When kids are responsible for caring for a dog, they must understand the needs of their dog and recognize social cues. If your kid forgets to feed the dog one day, make sure to sit down and have a conversation about how their actions affect your dog. Also make sure to celebrate your kid when they help to let them know they are making a difference in your dog’s life.
Dogs idolize their owners, and there is nothing comparable to the excitement in your dog’s eyes when you come home. That unconditional love and bond between your kid and your dog is good for building their self-esteem. Their increased sense of responsibility also helps. By having your kid feed, walk, and help care for your dog, they know that you trust them and they feel more confident to take on tasks.
These skills that dogs teach kids go further than your kids helping out around the house. Developing a sense of commitment, responsibility, sympathy, and self-esteem will positively translate into other areas of kids’ lives.