Call me crazy but I did it. As my last little angel was rounded the corner towards being fully potty trained, I did the unthinkable.
I got a puppy.
Crazy right? Yes, it was a decision that I was even unsure of until I actually had our little Lucy in my arms. In the six weeks since we brought her home I have learned a lot about how this decision has benefitted our family and so, here it is. The 10 ways having a dog has benefitted my kids:
10. A Sense of Community.
Everyone wants to pet a puppy! One of the best ways to get out and meet our neighbours occurs on our twice daily walks. From other dog owners wanting to let our pets ‘make friends’ to the neighbours down the street who can’t resist her, my kids are learning to be a little friendlier (with mom around to keep them safe) and have been able to easily make new friends.
When we decided to start puppy shopping my sister warned me there were two types of dogs: those who liked to cuddle with a stuffy and those who would chew the crap out of your stuff. Despite her good advice, we got the latter and have to give her quite a bit of exercise to keep her in check. The good news is that she isn’t the only one reaping the benefits of this heart healthy regiment. When my kids would rather get a drive to school we are pushed to walk by our four legged companion sitting at the front door, ready to go, tail wagging. And my kids aren’t the only ones, according to a study by St George’s, University of London; children from dog-owning families have higher levels of physical activity compared to children without.
8. Clean-up or It’s Gone.
The one thing our puppy and kids both have in common is their love for stuffies and my girls have quickly learned the golden rule: if you leave it on the floor, it now belongs to the dog. It’s great for us since the puppy is pretty much quarantined to the main floor during the day which my husband and I were slowly losing a battle to reclaim. One puppy later, the toys stay in their rooms.
7. If You Love It, Pick Up Its Poop.
This one is also about responsibility. Each time we go to leave for a walk my two-year old always makes sure I ‘bring a poop bag’. She knows that the right thing to do is to clean up after our dog so no one else would step in her mess. Basically, this is teaching them not to be the neighbourhood jerk.
6. If You Pick Up Its Poop, You Can Earn Money.
Although she is walked often, occasionally, there will be some bombs left in the backyard. Before she was old enough to walk we were able to clean up right away, but as the weather turned colder and we were able to walk her, we started hanging out in the yard less and less. One lazy Sunday, after my husband and I absentmindedly discussed the need to clean up the yard, our five year old grabbed some poop bags and went to town. After thoroughly washing her hands we decided this ‘special job’ deserved some cold hard cash. She now knows if she picks up the poop for a month she gets to pick something out at the store. Win-win.
5. Puppy Hugs, Not Drugs!
I have a daughter with lots of anxiety and a puppy who will climb in her lap the second she gets upset. According to the anxietyfreechild.com, Bringing a pet into the home can offer an anxious and depressed child uncomplicated love because animals are easy to understand and relate to.
4. Adoption Rules.
Whether you are rescuing an animal or purchasing from a responsible breeder, bringing an animal into your home is a great way to begin a dialogue about the adoption process. My daughter and I had a long talk while walking our pup about how our dog’s mother could not care for her so we adopted her and now I am her mom. Animal rescue is just as great of a life lesson for kids as it is rewarding for the new owners.
3. Dogs Are a Lot of Work!
They rival children for the amount of walking, bathing, feeding, grooming and snuggling they need. With the welcoming of a new family member comes the opportunity for kids to pitch in. From filling the food and water bowls, brushing, to picking up poop. There are a lot of jobs that will help kids foster a sense of self esteem. My older nephew is seven years old and enjoys holding the dog’s leash during our walks to school. He is allowed this job because he is ‘the big kid’ and has told me how much he enjoys it.
In typical puppy fashion, our Lucy has a lot of bad puppy habits: biting, chewing, pooping and peeing. My kids have learned to forgive the bites and the ruined toys. They learned love is bigger than poop on the floor. It’s a good lesson for all of us.
1. Unconditional LOVE.
Dogs live life to the fullest and are filled with love with for everything and everyone around them. They set a wonderful example of perfect loyal love for kids. I was never a dog person, now I am blogging about my princess. They change lives for the better.
*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Parent Life Network or their partners.