Would getting a dog benefit my kids?
Short answer: Yes. There’s good evidence that pets can have powerful perks for kids, beyond just teaching them responsibility.
Mental Health: Just petting a dog for 5 minutes changes the biology of the brain and reduces stress hormones like cortisol. The most research has been done in children with pronounced behavioral conditions, like autism, where therapy with dogs has been shown to improve the neurological pathways in the brain, resulting in better emotional and social outcomes.
Physical Health: Research consistently shows that dogs motivate kids to be more active. In one study, children with a family dog got more than two hours of extra exercise a week than those without. Another way pets improve your kids’ health: research has shown that having a furry friend (cats too!) early in life may protect against asthma and allergies.
Education: Tufts University has done three studies where struggling elementary school children read to a dog, a human or out loud to themselves. The kids who read to Fido had improved engagement and attitudes toward reading compared to the other groups. Why? The nonjudgmental canines appear to alleviate the anxiety that can come from reading aloud. Deborah E. Linder, D.V.M., M.S., D.A.C.V.N., Tufts Institute for Human-animal Interaction