10 Reasons To Get Your Kids That Puppy They've Been Begging For
If you're contemplating whether or not to get that puppy your kids have been begging for, a few experts and dog owners I chatted with recently at the American Kennel Club Royal Canin National Dog Championship may be able to help you make an executive decision once and for all. Between always having a loyal helper at story time and a protective companion by your kid's side, there are many reasons why an adorable doggo will be the gift you didn't know your family needed.
While attending the AKC National Championship presented by Royal Canin — the show airs on Animal Planet New Year’s Day at 6 p.m. EST, I got a little advice on the subject from Dr. Jill Cline, the site director for Royal Canin Pet Health and Nutrition Center. Before even thinking about bringing a puppy home to your little ones, Cline suggests that parents "be honest about what they're going to expect from their kids where dogs are concerned." This means making sure your kids are mature enough to treat the dog as a living being rather than a fun toy. As Dr. Cline, who has four dogs of her own, points out, "most accidents happen when realistic boundaries are not set."
So if you have given it some thought and figure your family is at a stage where you might be willing to consider a puppy, let me guide you through all of the benefits you'll receive.
They Have A "Genetic Predisposition To Do A Certain Job"
There is, of course, a case to be made for adopting a rescue dog rather than investing in a puppy from a breeder. But the reality is that raising kids is hard and any sort of help you can get with knowing what to expect from a new pet is great, so doing your research is key.
Jason Taylor, who is the AKC National Championship assistant director (and dad of a 3-year-old, so you know he knows) tells Romper, every dog has a "genetic predisposition to do a certain job." For instance, a collie is going to want to herd your children because they were bred to herd sheep. Other dogs might be fiercely protective, like a Great Dane, or just want to sleep in your lap all day, like a Saint Bernard or a Toy Poodle, depending on how much lap you're willing to share.
If your kids want a puppy, you can all do research together to find the one that suits you best. I think this would best be described as learning by incentive.
They Can Help Keep An Eye On Those Allergies
Did you know that your dog can be trained to protect your child if they are highly allergic to certain substances? Much like dogs who can sniff out cancer, they can be taught to detect any substance, as Paul Waggoner, a scientist at Auburn University’s Canine Detection Research Institute, told The Wall Street Journal in 2015. See? They're already earning their keep.
Dogs Can Help With Story Time Duties
Do you know what can be exhausting? Sitting through bed time stories every night when you still have a million things to do and you worked all day. Do you know who will truly never get tired of your child reading to them? A puppy.
In fact, recent research has shown that reading to dogs can boost a child's interest in reading for long stretches of time, as well as helping them retain information.
They're Great Listeners
It can be difficult for kids to talk about all of the things in their life that might be bothering them, but a puppy can be a great listener. Dogs are so instinctively compassionate and intuitive that in January 2019, Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada brought some "furry therapists" in to help students with mental health struggles, according to The Globe and Mail. So imagine what it would be like having one just sleeping at your place all the time.
They're Better Than A Digital Sidekick
It's such an old-fashioned complaint, I know, but kids are more attached to their digital lives than ever. And the reality is that they can get pretty much anything they want online. Except petting a dog.
You can't virtually pet a dog or bond with a furry friend online. You have to be present, in the room. Available. And as dog owner Pamela Fitzgerald tells Romper at the AKC Royal Canin National Championship Dog Show, that "interaction with dogs is something kids crave and can't get anywhere else." She told me this while I was petting her Burmese Mountain puppy, King, and she's right — it's marvelous.
They're All About That Unconditional
Nobody loves you like your dog loves you. This is actually the only reason you need to get a puppy; if you're anything like me, you need that love feedback. And a dog is always going to give it to you. As Fitzgerald tells Romper, "My dogs always make me feel better, no matter what."
You Can Find The Perfect Fit For Your Family's Lifestyle
Sure, it might seem like your busy lifestyle is not the best fit for a dog. But, according to AKC's Jason Taylor, there is truly a good fit out there for every family.
"If you are the kind of family who wants to hang out and watch TV and cuddle with your dog, toy dogs love to sit in your lap all day," he says. "Dogs like Yorkies, Maltese, and even some larger dogs like Saint Bernards and Newfoundland dogs need a good walk but also love to be indoors and sleep." Sign. Me. Up.
They Can Help Ease Your Child's Social Anxiety
There are many children who suffer with social anxiety. It can be difficult to go out into the world and deal with all different sorts of personalities and strangers. There are service dogs out there who are trained to help the most severe of these cases, but for kids who just need a little boost of confidence, a sweet puppy might be the perfect companion.
They're Better Than A Gym Membership
Even dogs who prefer a "Netflix and chill" lifestyle need to be walked every day, according to Pet MD. So if you're worried your family isn't getting in their 10,000 steps or isn't getting enough time outside, a puppy is your perfect path to staying active and getting some fresh air in the new year.
As Cynthia Morris, the proud owner of a sweet Red Bone Coon Hound named Louise McCoy tells Romper at the AKC National Championship, "If I wasn't busy keeping up with my dog I don't know if I would ever bother to exercise."
They Can Help Kids Understand Empathy
Empathy is a massively important skill. It's the reason people don't want to hurt each other, the impetus behind being a good human being who wants to help the world. It's also a skill that is difficult to teach, especially in young children whose brains are not yet equipped to understand empathy.
Taylor tells Romper that one of the best ways parents can help children learn empathy is through preparing them for their puppy's arrival. "Rather than introducing a puppy on Christmas morning, it might be a good idea to show them a photo of a puppy that will arrive after the chaos of the holidays," he says. "Then you can get them to prepare for the puppy by crawling around at the dog's eye level. Get them to look at the world through the puppy's eyes so they can identify dangers and protect them."
Now, go on and get yourselves a puppy because you know you want to. And, hey, if you need a little more motivation, flip on the AKC National Championship presented by Royal Canin when it premieres on Animal Planet on Jan. 1.