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7 Surprising Benefits To Adopting A Dog When You Have A Toddler

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Life with a toddler can be an overwhelming experience. You're likely potty training, navigating tantrums, answering a million questions, and all while trying to keep them safe. So why not make things really interesting and throw a dog into the mix, right? While that decision might sound bonkers, there are actually more than a few surprising benefits to adopting a dog when you have a toddler.

According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), research has found that among the many benefits your toddler may reap by growing up with a dog, a higher self-esteem tops the list. And not only does a furry companion reduce stress, but a toddler who goes through the process of adopting a dog in need with you may feel more compassion and empathy. According to the website Working Mother, because dogs are reliable, always-there-for-you kind of friends, kids with dogs may experience less loneliness, depression, and anxiety, too. Dogs may even help those children at risk for behavioral, social, or mood disorders by fostering a sense of self and responsibility. Oh, and did I mention they're super cute?

Of course, only you and your family know whether or not now is the right time to adopt a dog. But if you're on the fence and wondering if a toddler and a family pet might be too much, consider the following low-key reasons why adding a furry friend to the fold might be the best decision ever:

They Reduce Stress & Anxiety

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Multiple studies have shown that dogs are fantastic stress-relievers. According to The American Humane Association, there are 20,000 service dogs in the U.S., including 10,000 guide dogs. Dogs are naturally calming, attentive to your emotional needs, and true empathy champions.

They Encourage Active Lives & Family Bonding

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Dogs help keep kids active and engaged. Because they need regular walks and exercise, it's something the whole family can get behind, too. As a result, a dog also encourages your family to spend more time together (and away from the television screen), and in a healthy way.

They'll Teach Your Toddler To Make Friends

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Dogs don't judge you or belittle you, and they're great listeners and playmates. Plus, they're almost always ready to play, especially with an imaginative child.

The constant companionship can actually help your child learn how to make friends, and learn that when playing with others (even of the furry variety) you have to take turns, be understanding, and respect boundaries. When you teach your kid how to interact with a dog, they're learning that they need to be respectful of others. In fact, Dr. Sophia Yin tells the website Wide Open Pets that what annoys another person will probably annoy a dog, too.

They Ease Social Anxiety

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According to The Dodo, dogs are like superheroes for those suffering from anxiety — specifically in social situations. A dog can provide a distraction in public spaces. Not only will other people look at the dog, drawing the focus off of you or your child, but it helps you re-focus, too.

Your Child Will Be Less Likely To Develop Allergies

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Recent studies show that kids who grow up around dogs are less likely to deal with allergies. It sounds counter-intuitive, but it's true. Exposing your kids to germs strengthens their immune system, and therefore "reduces the risk of respiratory and allergic diseases," according to TIME.

They're Great Protectors

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They're not called "guard dogs" for nothing. Dogs have an innate instinct to protect their people — including your toddler. Even the dogs who wouldn't hurt a fly might be found snoozing at your child's door, just to let the family know, "I'm here for you."

They Help Your Child Learn

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According to Pibbles & More Animal Rescue, caring for a dog is a good way for kids to “parent play" and practice being caregivers, which levels the playing field and helps establish a norm that makes it acceptable for all children to be nurturing caregivers at a young age.