If you're anything like me, I worried about having dogs and children together. Will I be able to trust the dog around my children? Will I manage the feeding / walking / toileting alongside our busy daily life with school runs, playgroups, housework, washing, cooking, a part-time job, etc? What are the benefits of having a pet dog around? Do they outweigh the negatives?
Well, we went for it and picked a dachshund or" sausage" dog to join our family! And as you may know, shortly after we ended up with two pups! We've had Dottie for 7 weeks now, and Martha for 3 weeks this Friday. It already feels like they have been with us for much longer and the children are absolutely head over heels in love with them both!
For us, introducing these beautiful puppies into our family home has been totally the right decision. Here are some reasons why all the hard work has been worth it...
5 great ways my children benefit from having dogs
The children are learning all about being responsible dog owners. They help with feeding the pups, cleaning them with doggy wet wipes and tidying up their toys at night, as they do their own.
They understand that dogs need special care, like being taken for regular walks and they are becoming better at controlling the pups on the lead. Having these kind of shared responsibilities encourages co-operation and accountability.
Empathy is being able to understand the feelings of anther person or animal, from their point of view. Having a pet dog is helping my young children to be empathetic, to treat the pups as they would like to be treated themselves.
I hope that by caring for their dogs, the children will learn that all living things have feelings and that their actions will affect people or situations around them. They are learning the correct way to treat animals by watching us, and this will help them grow up to treat other living things with kindness, compassion and respect.
3) Unconditional Love and Friendship
Both of the children are head over heels in love with the puppies! It's adorable to watch! There is already this bond of trust and companionship that has formed between them - all 4 of them play so nicely together and genuinely enjoy each other's company.
Oxytocin is the "feel good" hormone, which is released when an owner cuddles or pets their dog, triggering feelings of unconditional love, bonding and protection. You can see this happening with my children and their puppies every day!
When my children are sad or hurt, I now hear cries of, "I want to cuddle Dottie," or "I want Martha to kiss it better." Dogs are always there to listen and not to judge, and it's so lovely that the children are learning to use this special friendship to make them feel good.
4) Physical Health
Since having the puppies, both children are more active than they used to be. The dogs need at least a 30 minute walk every day. With the warmer weather and lighter nights, we are enjoying evening walks as a family. It also encourages us to get up earlier to walk to school so the pups can come too.
The puppies love the garden, and they are never still! This encourages my kids to be in the garden too, chasing the dogs around, throwing and fetching balls and the Frisbee. All 4 of them wear each other out! Even if the children aren't really feeling up to much, I'll still manage to get them outside for plenty of puppy playtime!
In fact, an American study in 2010 found that children who owned dogs spent on average 11 more minutes being active every day, than those that didn't have a dog. That all adds up!
Well, how can I put this? The puppies make my children insanely happy! They can't wait to go downstairs to greet them every morning and give them cuddles and attention! You can tell by the excessive tail wagging that the feeling is mutual!
Interacting with your pet has been proven to help raise dopamine and serotonin (the happy hormone) levels, causing that warm, fuzzy, happy feeling! This probably explains the giggly giddiness I see in my kids when they are around the puppies!
Having a dog can also reduce stress, loneliness and anxiety. What other benefits could you possibly need for your children?
Things to consider
If you're thinking about getting a dog, make sure you consider your lifestyle. Puppies need a lot of love, care and attention. Can you provide this?
Also, research the breed and its needs. Having a dog with a good temperament and gentle nature is really important around young children. Talk to the breeder about the puppy's personality, as each puppy in the litter is different!
And remember, a dog is still an animal - never leave your young children alone with them! Learn to read the signs of certain dog behaviours and watch their interactions together. This ensures the safety of both your children and your dog; you never know what might happen in a split second. It's not worth the risk!
You can read all about our puppies, their personalities, likes and dislikes in our post introducing the dachshund pups.
If you want a pet, but you're not sure whether it's right for you and your family, take a look at Winging it with Harper's post on what else to consider before getting a pet; Mummy, can we have a pet?
Good luck to all of you who take the plunge! I'd love to know what puppy you get and how you're getting on in the comments below!
Finding joy in the little things: To be honest, all the little things I've mentioned above are what makes the hard work of having puppies worth it! There are so many more benefits to having dogs for children that I haven't written about, and some of those above I hadn't really considered properly before having dogs.
In a nutshell, my kids love the bones of those dogs (no pun intended)! They absolutely adore them, and the feeling is mutual. I can now totally appreciate why a dog is a man's best friend. I can see it in action every day. I hope this bond continues to strengthen as the puppies and my children grow up together.
I have linked up this post with these fabulous blogs: