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How Does Having A Dog Affect Kids? 9 Real Benefits

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Is there anything more picture perfect than a cute baby cuddling with an equally cute puppy? Unlikely. I mean, your favorite memes and GIFS probably feature a combo of this dynamically adorable duo. Besides being a great photo mate, dogs can actually have a huge impact on a child's life. If you've ever wondered "how does having a dog affect kids growing up?", you may be happy to hear that dogs can positively impact kids physically, emotionally, and even intellectually.

I never had a pet growing up, thanks to a lifelong allergy to dogs and all things furry and four-legged. I never thought I'd have one as an adult either, but seeing the way my toddler shrieks with excitement every time we see a dog on the street or at the park makes me wonder if there's a life-time supply of allergy meds in my future. With all the great benefits that come along with having a dog, maybe it's worth the trade-off.

Of course, dog ownership does have some pitfalls. As cute and cuddly as they can be, picking up poop and vacuuming up fur balls is never going to be fun. But a messier house seems like a small price to pay for a happier, healthier kid. If you're thinking of adding a furry friend to your family, here are are nine ways that having a dog changes a kid for the better.

1It Teaches Responsibility

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Dogs are a ton of work— they need to be trained, fed, walked, groomed, and of course, played with. Taking care of a dog is a great way for kids to learn responsibility, according to Parents. Provided of course that mom or dad doesn't end up taking on the workload.

2It Provides Comfort

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There's a reason dogs are known as man's best friend. According to The Huffington Post, dogs can be a huge source of comfort to kids because they're so loving. Bonding with a dog can be a great way for kids who have suffered trauma or abuse to begin to heal, because dogs are so dependable in their affection.

3It Boosts Social Skills

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A dog make a great wingman for kids looking to make new friends. According to SheKnows, having a dog promotes socialization because other children are more likely to approach a kid they seeing play with a dog. It's a natural icebreaker.

4It Leads To More Exercise

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Your kids and your dog may drive you crazy chasing each other around the house, but it's actually really good for them. According to the American Journal of Public Health, kids who have a dog at home get more exercise.

5It Improves Self-Esteem

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According to What To Expect, having a dog can boost a child's self-esteem. That may be because children get the benefit of constant companionship, as well as unconditional love from their dog.

6It Makes Kids Healthier

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Having a dog around during the first few months of a baby's life can actually make them less likely to get sick, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. One study showed that babies with dogs had fewer respiratory issues and ear infections during their first year.

7It Teaches Empathy

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Having a dog can teach a child empathy, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychology. It's a feeling that will come naturally to most children, but practicing love and respect for all forms of life can't hurt.

8It Boosts Reading Skills

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A child learning to read may find the perfect listener in their dog. According to Oprah, reading out loud to a dog can help a child practice their skills and boost their confidence in reading.

9It Promotes Family Bonding

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A dog can obviously add some stress to your family life. After all, it's another little creature that needs tons of your love and care. But having a dog can also promote family bonding, according to the Royal Children's Hospital of Melbourne. You'll likely spend more time out on walks together, playing together, and snuggling together thanks to your dog.