Why Kids Need Pets

232 Reasons Why Kids Need Pets

A List for Parents and Families

"Few of us would quarrel with the World Health Organization's pronouncement that companion creatures bring us immense benefits."

Hal Herzog, PhD says that in his continuing research on the benefits of pets he "found many scientific journal articles that began with a statement like: the health and psychological benefits of pets on human physical and psychological health are now well established."

If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile you know I believe pets can’t teach kids responsibility, parents have to teach kids the responsibility of caring for pets – by modeling the responsible behavior, teaching kids how to care and nurture and guiding them by example. However the benefits and joys of having a pet are invaluable in the life of a child. If you have any doubt, read through this list!

Psychologists tell us (and most animal behaviorists agree) that kids under 10 don’t have the social development to handle the care of a pet by themselves. You know your child better than anyone, but I strongly encourage you to take the lead, no matter how old your kids are. Make a pet part of your family. Enjoy them, laugh at them, cuddle them and love them. Then your kids will too. The benefits you reap will be ten fold the work you put into them.

"The ultimate responsibility" for caring for a pet, "falls on the parent, not the kid, to make sure the pet is healthy." Robert E. Brierer, PhD, Psychologist.

When I compiled all the reasons kids need a pet, with annotations of the studies or experts they came from, I found the benefits fell into 78 different categories. This list is created to illustrate some of the benefits that kids derive from having a pet, so it doesn’t include many of the benefits that are aimed at adults. It does include some medical and health benefits that would benefit anyone at any age.

If you’re on the fence about getting a pet for your child, please take a few minutes to read through these reasons pets add health, social ability and fun to the lives of our children. It’s why they will benefit from having a pet. - Barbara Denzer for Kidoodlpets.com  Blog – and from The Building Blocks of Character

Activity & Exercise

1. Pets are active and generally kids spend more time doing physical activities with pets than sedentary ones. Pets encourage kids to walk, run, play with toys and be active.

2. Pets lure kids to play with them by throwing a ball, playing tug of war, or chasing them.

3. Pets lure kids away from TV and computer games. They “attack” kids when they’re not paying attention.

4. Having a pet is an opportunity for kids to meet other kids and learn new skills with their pets, like participating in dog sports like agility trials and fly ball.


5. A pet can help teach a child with ADHD to schedule and plan ahead. Pets require a schedule for feeding, walking, bathing etc. Once your child becomes accustomed to following the pet's schedule, it will be easier for him to follow a schedule for homework, chores or extra-curricular activities.  Psychology Today, Jeff Hamilton, “Pills Don’t Teach Skills”

6. Kids with ADHD are used to their parents trying to calm them down or reprimanding them. A pet offers unconditional love and will not criticize a child for having too much energy. Animals are great listeners and can build up a child's self-confidence. Psychology Today, Jeff Hamilton, “Pills Don’t Teach Skills

Adversity – Overcoming

7. Pets help children (and adults) overcome adversity like illness or loss by comforting them, being a constant companion and depending on us to stay on schedule to care for them.

8. When people face real adversity, affection from a pet takes on new meaning. – Beck & Katcher – Between Pets & People


9. The Medical College of Georgia, and many other studies, say that “by the age of 6, some kids living with pets reduce their chances of getting hay fever or developing allergies to dust mites by as much as 75%.” When pets are introduced to the family early in life, it helps protect them from developing allergies because exposure of small amounts of dander and saliva boost their immune system.

10. On the other hand, some children have serious allergies to pets and have to learn to cope with staying away from pets or getting shots to reduce allergens. As parents, we can still teach our kids to love pets by watching movies starring pets, reading books about pets, going to aquariums and places that don’t aggravate their allergies. Often they grow out of allergies.

Anxiety in New Situations & Separation Anxiety

11. Gail F. Melson, Emeritus Professor of Human Development & Family studies at Purdue University has written extensively on kids and the Human-Animal bond. She says that, “The company of a pet helps ease anxiety when kids are put in new situations.”

12. “The strongest evidence of the importance of pets comes from the children themselves, who often cite pets as sources of emotional support.” Parent of kids with pets agree and also say their kids are less anxious and withdrawn than when they had no pet.

13. Both pets and kids can suffer from separation anxiety. Pet become anxious when the family leaves home. Kids worry when their parents aren't home. Pets and kids together have less separation anxiety.


14. Dogs may be particularly beneficial for kids with autism, acting as a “social lubricant” that helps them build assertiveness and confidence in their interactions with others.” Research at University of Missouri, MU Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders.

15. The data revealed that “children with any kind of pet in the home reported being more likely to engage in behaviors such as introducing themselves, asking for information or responding to other people's questions.” – Gretchen Carlisle, fellow at the University of Missouri

16. Children with autism who live with pets are more assertive. – Univ. of Missouri Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders

17. "The presence of animals appears to encourage social interaction among children with autism," study author Marguerite O'Haire, a PhD candidate at The University of Queensland in Australia

18. "Children with autism engaged in 55 percent more social behaviors when they were with the animals, compared to toys," said O'Haire, who added that the amount they smiled more than doubled.”

19. “Autistic children who received a pet at age 4 or 5 showed major improvement in two social skills that are not only difficult for autistic people, but are also critical in sustaining human relationships: sharing with others and comforting people in distress.” French Researchers, Aug 2012

20. “Riding horses teaches balance and flexibility to all kids but especially to physically handicapped kids, and kids with Autism, and gives a sense of accomplishment and companionship to those involved” (in horseback riding). Janet Tobiassen Crosby, DVM.

Behavior Problems

21. According to Leslie Irvine, psychologist at the University of Colorado, “Pets can help prevent kids from engaging in risky behavior.”

22. Dr. Risë Van Fleet, PhD. RPT-S, uses a pet play therapy program with dogs (and other pets too!) to help children work through various problems and communicate better with adults. Family Enhancement & Play Therapy Center, Inc. in Boiling Springs, PA

23. Animal assisted therapy is particularly effective for children with sensory, personal boundary, attachment, relationship and sexual behavior problems. There are specific interventions unique to work with animals that can be used to address these issues. Animal Assisted Therapy Programs of Colorado

Best Friends

24. Children and dogs can be the best of friends if you follow a few simple guidelines and precautions. There is no greater relationship than that between a child and their dog. Follow some good common sense precautions and choose the right dog at the right time for your child. A child and a dog both require a huge investment of your time. If you devote the time to both, your rewards will be far greater than anything money could ever buy. – Doctors Foster & Smith, PetEducation.com

25. The best dogs for children are those who receive proper socialization, humane training, exercise, and attention; who are given adequate food, water, shelter, and veterinary care; who are neutered or spayed; and who are safely confined.

26. Dogs have been called man’s best friend, but even more importantly they are the best friend of children with disabilities. Having a dog companion will mentally stimulate a child with disabilities. Being taught with a dog by their side can give the child more confidence and motivation to try and learn new things. Pet-Super-Store

Blood Pressure Reduction

27. Having a pet can help you manage your blood pressure. In one study of 240 married couples, pet owners had lower blood pressure and lower heart rates during rest than people who did not own a pet. Web MD – Keep Blood Pressure in Check. When parents are calm, kids are too.

28. Kids who share pets with their parents and grandparents have healthier families. People with pets have lower triglycerides and cholesterol levels, indicators of heart disease and lower blood pressure. - Multiple studies including the State University of New York at Buffalo.

Bond: Human-Animal

29. The cement of the human-animal bond is often called Trust. – Paul McGreevy, PhD, MRCVS – A Modern Dog’s Life

30.  A pet’s welcome at the end of the school day is one of the most satisfying and joyful experiences for a child, especially if s/he is coming home to an empty house.

Calming – Petting & Hugging Their Pets Calms Kids

31. “Petting an animal, hearing its soft breathing, feeling its heartbeat, looking into its sweet eyes, knowing that the pet needs us and that we need the pet, creates feeling of love and a corresponding influx of chemicals from the brain that are calming and comforting and create a sense of well-being and happiness.” Caryn Sabes Hacker, Psychotherapist.

 32. Playing with pets increases levels of serotonin and dopamine, which calms and relaxes kids. – PetMD.com

Character Values – Academic Achievement & Respect

33. “Children in dog-owing families have more traditional values, better academic achievement and greater respect for their parents.” – Elizabeth Omerod, Companion Animal Veterinary Surgeon, member of the Pet Health Council in London.


34. Kids and teens are comforted by their pets. They turn to their pet when they’re sad, angry or afraid. College students feel their pets will help them get through difficult and stressful situations, and many more say that without their pet, they would feel lonely. Sara Staats, PhD, professor emeritus of psychology at Ohio State University.

35. Sometimes when a child is required to testify in court, the presence of a therapy dog is requested. Their job is to bring calmness and comfort to a stressful situation. Becky Snodgrass, Child Protective Services Bexar County Courthouse, San Antonio, TX

36. K-9 Comfort Dogs provide comfort and compassion to members of Lutheran Congregations, pre-schools with children ages 2 to 5, and nursing homes. – Lutheran Church Charities


37. “Families communicate more when they have pets in the household. Over 52% of families reported experiencing an increase in the time the family spent together after they acquired their pets.” A.O. Cain, Pets As Family Members, Marriage & Family Review

38. “A good relationship with a pet can also help in developing non-verbal communication, compassion and empathy.” AACAP

39. “The belief is that maybe animal-owning children are a little bit more aware unconsciously and have learned non-verbal communication.” Dr. Alan Beck, Center for Human-Animal Bond at Purdue University

40. “Dogs don’t have a verbal language, they communicate with facial expressions, noises, body postures, bumps and jumps.” – Case

41. Children learn to detect what their pet wants from body language and noises even though they can’t talk, thus increasing their own communication skills. Kids learn the difference between purring and hissing, barking and yelping.

42. Kids with slow development of language skills, lisps or speech problems can always free comfortable to talk to their pet that listens and never corrects them.


43. Pets keep kids company when they’re sick. They can keep kids company when they have to stay by themselves - if they’re latch-key kids or have to be home when their parents aren’t.

44. Pets are a kids best friend when there’s no one else around.

45. Pets allow kids to dress them up, happily attend tea parties, weenie roasts, and agreeably listen to their chatter.

46. Pets encourage the imagination of the child who tries to figure out things to do with their pet.

47. Children put pets high on their “wish lists” almost from the age when they can make one. Interviews with children who don’t have pets, from preschoolers through adolescents held in Montreal, San Francisco Bay and Syracuse, NY reveal a nearly universal learning for one.


48. “Kids who have pets are instilled with confidence and friendship, qualities that endure and grow as the child moves through life.” European Pet Food Industry

49. “Children go through life under constant evaluation. They are rated for their behavior, grades, test scores and athletic performance. Pets have no such expectations; they’re delighted that the child is with them. Pets give children the sense of unconditional acceptance, no judging or rating is involved.” – Rebecca Reynolds Weil, AAI

50. Pets don’t care if we live in a mansion or a tent in someone’s backyard, they’re just happy to have a family to love.


51. “Pets can be safe recipients of secrets and private thoughts – children often talk to the pets, like they do their stuffed animals.” AACAP

52. Animals are confidants for kids, they keep secrets.


53. Pets teach kids the consequences for many of their actions. If they leave the door open, the pets may run, walk or fly out.

54. If they leave their hamburger unattended, a pet may eat it.

55. Kids learn if they pull a dog or cat’s tail the animal will feel pain, and they might bite.

Coping Skills

56. The birth and death of animals helps kids learn and cope with life events.

57. The first lesson about the “birds and the bees” that parents talk to their kids about often starts with the birth of an animal.


58. When kids are scared or in unfamiliar circumstances, their pets can give them courage just by staying close to them. Most pets have a natural urge to protect their human family. – Denzer – The Building Blocks of Character


59. Kids who live with pets learn that they are a lifetime commitment.


60. “Animals offer an avenue for children to explore their curiosity. Curiosity can lead to hope and to greater engagement with the world around them.” – Rebecca Reynolds Weil, Dir. Animals as Intermediaries Program, Massachusetts.


61. Animal-assisted interventions, including equine-assisted psychotherapy, have been demonstrated to improve outcomes for those with depression. – HABRI , the Human-Animal Bond Initiative Foundation

62. Dogs help kids and adults alike through depression by the act of stroking them, their affection for us, keep us company, insisting we feed them and care for them, cajoling us into interacting with them & getting us out of the house into the fresh air.  - DogsForDepression.org.UK

Dog Training

63. Watching the process of teaching a dog manners or tricks teaches kids that all members of the family have behavior expectations.

64. Kids who get involved with participating in dog shows, agility teams, fly ball or other pet clubs learn to follow strict rules.

Education – Reading & Listening with Therapy Pets

65. “Tail Waggin’ Tutors” is an example of a Reading Therapy Program of TDI (Therapy Dogs International). Dogs are trained to listen to kids read. They’re not critical or impatient. They help kids learn better. They can help improve a child’s reading skills, attention span and overall academic performance. Kids who read to pets, instead of Mom or Dad, are more relaxed and less stressed which helps improve their reading performance. Study: Learning About Life www.Fediaf.org

Education – Homework with Pets

66. Having a pet stay with a child while they do their homework can help them focus by reminding them to stay on task so they can go plan.

Educational Benefits of Pets

67. Figuring out how to solve problems pets have (like teaching their pet to learn a command or do a trick) helps kids develop their thought patterns.

68. Kids with pets are “far better at school because they’re more motivated” than other children. Study at Manchester Metro University, U.K. by Susan Dawson

69. “Not only social emotional development, but also cognitive development can be enhanced by owning Pets.” Poresky & Hendrix, Companion Animal Bonding, Children’s Home Environments & Young Children’s Social Development.”

70. “Children with pets and a better home environment showed higher age-adjusted child development scores.” Poresky & Hendrix, Companion Animal Bonding, Children’s Home Environments & Young Children’s Social Development.”

Emotional Balance

71. “Pets help children be more emotionally balanced that kids without pets.” – Dr. June McNichols

72. A study of 100 children younger than 13 who owned cats found that more than 80 percent said they got along better with family and friends since getting a pet.

73. “Although most children are gentle and appropriate with pets, some may be overly rough or even abusive. If such behavior persists, it may be a sign of significant emotional problems. Any child who abuses, tortures or kills animals should be referred to a child and adolescent psychiatrist for a comprehensive evaluation.”


74. “Children with pets at home score significantly higher on empathy and pro-social scales than non-pet owners.” Webvet.com

75. Having a pet teaches children empathy and compassion. When kids are old enough, they begin to learn to empathize with their pets when they’re hurt.

76. Studies show that “children who own pets have more empathy and nurturing ability, and as they grow into adulthood, essential skills to develop meaningful relationships.

77. “The benefits of brining children and safe dogs together under direct supervision are numerous. While acquiring empathy, children learn about responsibility and care for others through formative relationships with dogs.” – Paul McGreevy, PhD. MRCVS – A Modern Dog’s Life.


78. They keep me company, they play games with me.  – Brenda K. Brayant

79. “With so many children struggling with obesity, dog walking is a strategy to increase exercise in children.” Perri Klass MD, “Can Fido and Whiskers Enrich Children’s Lives?” NYTimes.com blog

80. Pets add a social aspect to exercise that makes it more interesting. Walking a dog is a fun way to get daily exercise while meeting other friends and new people. – dog walker

81. According to a report the American Journal of Public Health, “not only do dogs provide children with love and companionship, they also help them achieve healthier lifestyles by keeping them physically active and (which helps) combat obesity.”

82. The more active lifestyles of children from dog-owning families is really interesting,” stated Dr. Christopher Owen, St George's University in London, which conducted the study as part of the Child Heart and Health in England (CHASE). The researchers used activity monitors to record the children's daily movement of 202 kids 9 and 10 years old at 78 schools in three different cities.


83. Pets need exercise and they do it naturally, so if a kid’s with a pet, chance are they are moving more than if they were by themselves.


84. “Sharing social occasions and celebrations with our pets indicates their membership in the family. The pet often has the status of the youngest child in the family.” – Beck & Katcher, Between Pets & People

85.  The dog, as an extension of the family, benefits from membership and contributes to the family in many ways, not the least of which is helping us with our mental well-being. – Beck & Katcher – Between Pets & People

Entertainment, Fun, Enjoyment

86. Our pets entertain use! We can’t wait to share their antics with our friends and family which helps kids communicate, bond and develop close ties with the family and the pet.

87. “More than anything else, dogs enjoy having fun.” And “dogs have different play styles for different playmates. ” And “Dogs love surprises!” What great news that is for kids! – Paul McGreevy, PhD. MRCVS – A Modern Dog’s Life.

88. “Pets engage in a kind of play that is beyond the world of competition.”  – Beck & Katcher – Between Pets & People

Gender Neutral

89. Pets treat boys and girls the same.

90. “Pets are ‘gender neutral’ they are as important to girls as they are to boys (and vice versa) and they don’t carry the stigma of societal norms like who can be a babysitter or who plays with trucks.”

91.  “Caring for a pet is a gender-neutral responsibility and can be especially valuable for boys who may feel, rightly or wrongly, that other forms of nurturing compromise their masculinity.” – Gail F. Melson – Why the Wild Tings Are – review by Pet Age Magazine 2010

Gentleness – See Nurturing

92. Handling baby pets (kittens, puppies, birds, bunnies, etc.) touching them, feeling their hearts beat, hearing and seeing them breathe, teaches kids about being gentle.

Good for the Heart

93.  Research has shown the long-term benefits of owning a cat include protection for your heart. Over the 20 years of one study, people who never owned a cat were 40% more likely to die of a heart attack than those who had. Another study showed that dog owners had a significantly better survival rate one year after a heart attack. Overall, pet owners have a lower risk of dying from any cardiac disease, including heart failure. Web MD Pets Can Improve Your Health  Good news for kids that grow up with a dog or cat!


94. In one survey, 70% of families reported an increase of family happiness and fun after they acquired a pet.

95. Pets “are always there, always happy to see you.” -Dr. John Wedderburn, Hong King Animal Welfare Supporter

Health, Healing & Medical

96. “Children who keep pets are healthier and more emotionally balanced.” Dr. June McNicholas, University of Warwick

97. “Our animal companions can detect the low mood of illness, the need for play and distract us from our woes.” Dr. Marty Becker – the Healing Power of Pets

98.  Children the world over turn to their pets in times of emotional stress. – Dr. Marty Becker, The Healing Power of Pets

99. “If … the world around us – and the animals in it – can benefit normal people, then  direct contact with pets can be even more rewarding and restorative for those beset with troubles. – Beck & Katcher – Between Pets & People


100. “Adopting a pet means kids learn basic hygiene and safety rules for living with a pet.” NIH, National Institute of Health, “News in Health”

101. Having kids help with giving the dog a bath will aquaint kids with the enjoyment dogs get from being clean and well groomed.


102. Pets stimulate kids to imagine what they can do together and dream up games they can play with their pets and characters that their pets can play.


103. Love for pets can inspire kids to volunteer to help at pet shelters, collect food and supplies for rescues and shelters and help rais money for pet adoption organizations.

104. Love for pets can inspire kids to help find pets a “forever home.”

105. Physically handicapped children are inspired when they meet a handicapped pet. Kids are blessed with the understanding that if a dog can walk on 3 legs or a blind cat can live a normal life without seeming to be prevented from doing something, they can too!


106. Good or bad, our pets love us and are glad to see us as long as we don’t mistreat them.

Kid Friendly

107. Some small animal pets are more kid-friendly than others. The top eight small animal pets according to the American Pet Products Association 2011-2012 survey are rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, mice/rats, gerbils, chinchillas and ferrets.


108. “Pets make us laugh! They’re fun and they’re funny! That enjoyment increases endorphins in our bodies! As many as 70% of families surveyed, reported an increase in family happiness and fun subsequent to pet acquisition. - A.O. Cain, “Pets as Family Members,” Marriage and Family Review

109. Pets have a special way of bringing people back to play and laughter, no matter what their age. – Becke & Katcher – Between Pets and People

110. In a recent study as many as 70% of families surveyed reported an increase in family happiness and fun subsequent to adopting a pet. A.O. Cain, “Pets as Family Members,” Marriage and Family Review

111. We can’t help but laugh when we’re around dogs and cats because they do such silly things! Ask anyone with a dog or cat!

Laws That Protect Pets Teach Kids to Be Kind to Animals

112. States have laws mandating or recommending the incorporation of “humane education” into the school curriculums. Frank R. Ascione, PhD

113.  States also have laws against abusing animals. Animal Cruelty receives serious legal and scientific attention to protect animals and better understand the people that abuse them. – Becke & Katcher, Between Pets & People

Life Lessons:  Birth, Death, Sex

114. Pets “provide lessons about life; reproduction, birth, illnesses, accidents, death and bereavement.” AACAP

115. Pets “can teach respect for other living things.” -Brossard, Animals & Children

116. The birth or death of a pet is often a child’s first experience with trauma and helps them develop and understand life.

117. Pets have illnesses like diabetis that require a certain diet, or broken bones that require special treatment.

118. Some pets prey on and eat other pets: Cats catch birds, mice, bunnies.

119. “Growing up with pets and witnessing birth, mothers loving and caring for their pups and kittens, pet babies receiving attention from their pet parents, gives children the opportunity to see them experience hunger, pain, getting sick and eventually dying, is preparation for their own life.”  www.Fediaf.org

120. The birth and death of animals helps kids learn and cope with life events. The first lesson of the “birds and the bees” often starts with the birth of an animal. “For most children the birth of animals is an exciting moment and can give parents the opportunity to explain how life begins.  Endenburg and Baarda, The Walthan Book of Human-Animal Interactions: Benefits and Responsibilities


121. Pets allow (kids) to be alone without being lonely. – Beck & Katcher – Between Pets & People

122. Pets ease our loneliness and provide us with companionship.

123. Pets are always “on tap” with their unconditional love and are a wonderful cure for loneliness. In fact, doctors frequently recommend pets to patients who feel lonely. – HABRI , the Human-Animal Bond Initiative Foundation

Love, Power of – Unconditional

124. “We all crave affection, but sometimes we find we have difficulty obtaining it from other people. Companion animals provide friendship, constancy and love. They’re always there, always happy to see you.”  Dr. John Wedderburn, Hong Kong

125. “Surely the most important role our pets play in our lives is that they love us. No one is too ugly or too poor or disabled to win the love of a pet. They love us uncritically and without reserve. Elizabeth Marshall, “Between Pets and People: The Importance of Animal Companionship.

126. “Children with pets are rewarded for being responsible with unconditional love from the pet.” Leslie Irvine, University of Colorado

127. “Animals love kids without reciprocation.” Gail F. Melson, Emeritus Prof. of Human Development & Family Studies, Purdue University.

128 “Animals have the capacity to call forth an essential kind of affection that is not changed by age or warped by the experience that destroy or gravely injure one’s ability to love other human beings.  – Beck & Katcher, Between Pets and People


129. Children soon learn that animals consistently show non-judgmental love and loyalty.  www.Fediaf.org

Manners & Dog Training

130. Dogs and cats misbehave, just like kids. Kids learn pets must be taught manners to be good members of the family. Training them both is a big responsibility – for parents!

Meaning in Life

131. Volunteering at a shelter, saving a pet’s life, can give us new meaning in our own life.

Medical Benefits of Pets

132. “Increasingly, medicine is recognizing the special relationship between pets and peple as one of the most powerful weapons in fighting disease, treating chronic conditions and coping with troubling times. In fact, many doctors are routinely “prescribing” pets for their patients.” Dr. Marty Becker, DMV, Author: The Healing Power of Pets

133. “A pet is a medication, without side effects, that has no many benefits. I can’t always explain it myself, but for years now I’ve seen having a pet is like an effective drug. It really does help peple.” Dr. Howard Creagan, Oncologist at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN.

134. “A large-scale survey of 11,000 Australians, Chinese and Germans found that pet owners made up to 20 per cent fewer annual   to the doctor than non-pet owners.”

135. A study of 256 children, ages 5 to 11 years, in three schools in England and Scotland found that kids with pets had fewer sick days.”

136. Multiple studies prove petting a pet lowers blood pressure.

137. Pets improve our immune systems, especially when we are babies.

138. Pets increase our energy level.

139. Kids with pets are 21% less likely to develop colds, flu and other illnesses.

140. “Contact with a pet has many physical benefits. Petting, hugging and stroking a pet helps calm children and reduces blood pressure for all ages. –WebMD

141. “Pets are powerful, positive influences on our lives, offering unique emotional, psychological and physical health benefits to their owners.” Dr. Douglas Aspros, President of AVMA

142. “People with pets have lower triglycerides and cholesterol levels, indicators of heart disease, and lower blood pressure.” State Unversity of

143. Having a pet gives you a healthier heart. “Spending time with loving animals lowers production of artery-damaging stress hormone       cortisol.” Alan Beck, ScD. Director, Center for Human-Animal Bond Purdue University.

144. Researchers at the University of Florida found that some dogs can detect seizures and migranes before they occur by noticing their quivering lips. CaninesForDisabledKids.org


145. Pets motivate kids to play them, exercise and use their imagination.

146. Pets lure kids away from TV and computer games.


147. Pets help us learn to care for another living thing.

148. Pets provide pleasure and companionship as well as opportunities for learning gentleness and responsibility.  Jack C. Horn & Jeff Meer, Psychology Today

149. Pets help teach us to be nurturing.

150. “If there are pets in the house, parents and children frequently share in taking care of the pets, which suggests that youngsters learn, at an early age, how to care for and nurture a dependent animal.”  Davis & Summers, “Pet-Care Management in Child-Rearing Families”


151. We all learn patience when teaching our dogs to have manners or learn tricks.

152. Training an animal takes patience and problem solving. Kids and parents can learn, if they don’t know how to train their pet. They can find a trainer or look for a book, website or videos on how to train a pet.


153. Pets can teach kids to be persistent and stick to a task until their pet learns a new trick or a manner.


154. Pets are great playmates for kids.

155. Pets will look out the window with you as long as you want.

156. Cats will chase a string as long as we pull it.

157. Dogs will always come to your tea party

158. Pets encourage us to play ball or take a walk.

159. Playing with a pet helps some kids with learning disorders stay alert and focus on a task.

160. Playing with a pet can reduce frustration for kids when caused by learning disabilities or physical disabilities.


161. When our pets accomplish a new trick, or our bird learns a new word, it develops the pride we have in our pet and our family.

162. Learning to take care of a pet, train one or teach one a trick, provides a sense of self worth and pride.

163. “Accomplishing tasks appropriate to their age, when taking care of the pet with their parents, makes a child feel more competent.” Endenburg & Baarda


164. Pets provide not only companionship but a level of safety to kids who are home alone for any reason.

Relief From Parents

165.  “As Melson aptly demonstrates, young people often seem to have a closer relationship with their pets than they do with parents.” David Pitt, Booklist, reviewing: “Why the Wild Things Are” by Gail Melson.

166. Pets provide relieve from critical, demanding parents who seem to do nothing but give orders and insist on chores being done now. Pets are never critical and don’t yell!

Relaxation – See also Stress Reduction

167. Except in the case of fear, most pets help us relax by petting them, talking to them, walking with them, or laughing at their antics.


168. There is clear scientific evidence that kids growing up with a pet develop better social skins and have great respect for all living things around them, than those that don’t have the benefit of pet ownership.” Study: Learning About Life  www.Fediaf.org


169. Kids learn responsibility from listening and watching their parents model what they teach. Most kids aren’t prepared to be in charge of a pet but they can learn lessons of responsibility and do some of the pet care.

170. “Parents serve as role models. Children learn responsible pet ownership by observing their parents’ behavior.”  AACAP

171. “Since very young children (under 4) do not have the maturity to control their aggressive and angry impulses, they should be monitored with pets at all times.” AACAP

172. “Young children (under 10) are unable to care for a large animal, a cat or a dog, on their own.” AACAP

173. The little acts of caring, feeding, watering, tending and protecting that must be performed day after day, all call forth a response.  Beck & Katcher, Between Pets & People


174. Pets reward us for taking care of them with unconditional love.

175. For some breeds, a reward can take the form of being allowed to carry on working, whilte a punishment might be being stopped from working. – Paul McGreevy, PhD. MRCVS – A Modern Dog’s Life.  Kids can learn more about dog training rewards from TV, websites, videos and books. Sometimes they make better trainers than adults.

Schedules & Routines

176. Pets can provide structure and ritual in lives which might otherwise feel out of control. The simplicity of their demands forces one to “keep your feet on the ground”and to follow some sort of routine in terms of food and care.  MacCallum Research by Petcare Information and Advisor Service, Melbourne, Australia – What Australians Think About Their Pets

177. Pets help us plan our day, stick to a schedule and develop routines. They wake us up. They need exercise.

178. Having a schedule or routine due to the care and feeding of a pet adds structure to kid’s lives.

179. Arranging to care for a pet when schedules are upset by going out of town or on a vacation, models planning and responsibility for kids.

Security - Safety

180. Pets help keep our kids safe. Dogs especially, will alert us to strangers, prowlers or intruders. Other pets have ways of warning us too.

181. Pets help protect kids and their families from other dangers like fires, gas leaks, broken pipes and carbon monoxide poisoning.

182. “An improved sense of security is part of why we own dogs. After getting a dog, many people report that their fear of crime has been reduced. - Paul McGreevy, PhD. MRCVS – A Modern Dog’s Life.

183. Realtors report that neighborhoods where people walk their dogs regularly are perceived as safer neighborhoods to prospective buyers, whether they have a dog or not. - The Northeast Times Newspaper

Self Confidence

184. “Positive self-esteem of children is enhanced by owning a pet.”  Fergesen, F.J. The Effects of Pet Facilitated Therapy on Self-Esteem and Socialization of Primary School Children

185. Studies have linked family ownership of a pet with high self-esteem in young children and greater cognitive development.

186. “Developing positive feelings about pets can contribute to a child’s self esteem and self-confidence.” AACAP

187. Growing up with a pet “gives children a more inclusive sense of sel. I think it has implications for the relationship of people to other beings on the planet.” James Serpell, Director of the Center for the Interaction of Animals & Society – Univ. of Pennsylvania.

188. “Pets can help kids build a positive moral identity.” Leslie Irvine, Univ. of Colorado.

189. “Having a pet often makes a child the center of attention in a new situation. Pet owning children have also been found to be significantly more popular with their classmates.” Cors & Corson”Pet Animals as Social Catalysts in Geriatrics”

190. Being attached to a pet is related to positive emotional functioning. Melson & Peel “Attachment to Pets, Empathy & Self Concept in Young Children

191. A pet has no measures of success or failure; acceptance is total, which provides a sense of self worth.” Robert E. Bierer, PhD. New Mexico study on the effect dog ownership had on 10-12 year old children.

Seizure Dogs

192. A "seizure dog" is one that has been specially trained to live and work with kids who have epilepsy. Some are trained to bark and alert the parents when a child is having a seizure outside or in another room. Some lie next to a person having a seizure to prevent injury. And some work has been done training dogs to warn before a seizure occurs. This gives the person time to lie down or move away from a dangerous place such as a hot stove. – WebMD – Pets Can Improve Your Health

Service Dogs aka Therapy Dogs

193.  Service dogs assist handicapped kids by helping them move and talk while recovering.

194. Service Dogs Perform Tracking, fetching, even herding cattle or sheep

195. “Dogs are amazingly adaptable to the needs of humans.” Services provided by dogs for humans include: dogs that guide the blind, therapy dogs, service dogs, soldier dogs, seizure dogs, diabetic warning dogs, handicap assistance – and many more!

196. Soldiers must seek approval for a service dog by writing a letter to their commander. A panel of a doctor, physical therapist and mental health counselor have to confirm their eligibility.

197. Service dogs assist the mobility-impaired, even alert epileptic owners that a seizure is imminent so the owner can sit down or take a medication before the seizure strikes. Dogs can be trained to turn off lights, pick up objects, even pull wheel chairs.” Dr. Tobiassen Cosby, DMV

198. “Police Dogs & Search & Rescue Dogs serve as protection for their officers as well as sniffing out drugs, explosives, and other dangerous chemicals long before a human can. They use a powerful sense of smell to locate people lost or injured.” Dr. Tobiassen Cosby, DMV

199. Service dogs are often prescribed by psychiatrists to assist injured soldiers who are going through a medical retirement process.

200. OCD service service dogs can tell when their companion begins repetitive behaviors associated with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, such as washing hands repeatedly. The dog will then interrupt the behavior by nudging them.
201. Service dogs for physical disorders. A 1996 study showed dogs have a positive effect on the psychological  state of people with physical handicaps. After a year with a service dog, the participants need for paid services fell by 68 per cent.


202. Kids enjoy talking or singing with a bird or other pet. Kids who are too shy to sing around their friends can enjoy singing to their pets.

203. Thousands of people claim that their dogs not only like to hear them sing, the dogs like to sing along with them. Singing dogs surprise us, entertain us and delight us. Check out singingdogs.com and petbotanics.com/thebotanifits for some singing dogs.

Socialization & Social Skills

204. Pets help us meet new people who love pets like we do – at the vet, on a walk and at an event.

205. Kids with pets socialize better than kids without pets.

206. Having a pet “has positive impacton the social development of children.” Stetic, Dept of Psychology, University of Zagreb.

207. “Utilizing interaction with animals helps children find ways of coping with their problems and learn, sometimes for the first time, vital social sills and responsibility.” Sam and Myra Ross, Green Chimneys Foundation.

208. “84% of the 10 year olds interviewed, reported that social contacts occurred with other children and adults while they exercised their dogs.” A. MacDonald “The Pet Dog in the Home” in Interrelations Between People and Pets.

209. Young adults with a strong attachment to pets report feeling more connected to their communities and relationships.

210. Young adults who cared for animals engaged in more “contribution” activities: volunteering, service to community, helping friends. Study by Megan Mueller, Developmental Psychologist & Research Assistant Professor at Cummings School of Veterinary, Tufts University

211. A child’s healthy emotional development can be encouraged by caring for a pet.  – Beck & Katcher – Between Pets & People

Stress Reduction

212. Pets Are Natural Mood Enhancers - It only takes a few minutes with a dog or cat or watching fish swim to feel less anxious and less stressed. Your body actually goes through physical changes in that time that make a difference in your mood. The level of cortisol, a hormone associated with stress, is lowered. And the production of serotonin, a chemical associated with well-being, is increased. Reducing stress saves your body wear and tear.              – Web MD Pets Can Improve Your Health

213. By analyzing viewer’s saliva, researcher Cheryl-Krause-Parello determined that watching a dog movie lowers people’s stress levels. The levels of cortisol, a hormone associated with stress, “take a free fall.”

214. The presence of a dog during a child’s physical examination or dental treatment has been found to decrease the child’s stress and anxiety.

215. A family pet can help smooth some of the ups-and-downs that come with life in the Armed Forces – or moving in general. Blog.PetsForPatriots.org/pets-help-children-deal-with-stress-of-military-life/

216. Touch and movement, like hugging a pet or chasing one, are two quick ways to reduce stress.


217. Children learn about survival of the fittest from their parents when their cat catches a bird or bunny.

218. “Wild animals teach children the lessons of “survival of the fittest” – how they have to prey on other animals to survive or forage for their food and why we have to provide pets with food, water and a home because pets aren’t wild animals.


219. Talking to their pets gives kids a feeling of comfort. It means they aren’t alone. They can tell their pet secrets like they’re afraid to be left alone.

220. “By talking to the animal, children often surmount feelings of discomfort in discussing their difficulties. Children feel as though the animal accepts and understands them in ways that adults might not.” Animal Assisted Therapy Programs of Colorado

221. “A pet can act as a confidant for a troubled child.” – Beck & Katcher – Between Pets & People

Team Work

222. In a study at 36 elementary schools, cats in the classroom increased the class cohesiveness (teamwork) and general atmosphere. – Jonica Newby, Pet Care Informatin and Advisory Service, Australia

223. The same study also found that cats generate a calm, orderly environment, modified disruptive behavior or the kids and reduced the friction between kids in the classroom. Jonica Newby, Pet Care Informatin and Advisory Service, Australia


224. Merely by petting a pet, levels of oxytocin – a mood-affecting neurotransmitter and “feel-good” hormone in the brain, increases. Patricia McConnell, Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist & Author: For The Love of a Dog

225. Scientists say only stroking and petting (all) mammals activates their MRGPRB4+ neuron and that relates to lower stress responses. That’s the reason petting our companion animals reduces our stress.

226. Pets satisfy the basic need to touch, stroke, hold and cuddle.

227. Kids as well as adults have a basic need to touch and interact with others. Petting, stroking and hugging pets fulfills this need. Temple Grandin, PhD. Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharamacology

Therapies That Dogs Perform

228. Dogs are trained to assist people who suffer from schizophrenia, depression, anxiety disorders, ADD, hyperactivity, autism, hearing loss or physical disabilities.

229. For kids with diabetes, a sudden drop in the level of blood glucose can be very serious. Some dogs can alert their owner to a dangerous drop before it actually happens. They may be responding to chemical changes in the body that give off a scent. The alarm gives the child time to eat a snack to avoid the emergency. About one in three dogs living with people with diabetes have this ability. Dogs for Diabetics is training more dogs to help more people. WebMD – Pets Can Improve Your Health

230. Animal assisted therapy is affective for young and old alike, even for the most alienated. – Beck & Katcher – Between Pets & People


231. “Positive relationships with pets can aid in the development of trusting relationships with others.” AACAP

232. Trust (between kids and dogs) is based entirely on consistency. This is an important lesson for kids. The dog must always be able to trust that they will pet him, not hit him, have food in his bowl when they offer it to him, throw the ball when they have a ball in their hands. paraphrased from Paul McGreevy, PhD, MRCVS – A Modern Dog’s Life.


February – Prevent a Litter Month (Humane Society of the US)

February – Pet Dental Month (American Veterinary Medical Assn and American Veterinary Dental Society)

• Responsible Pet Owners Month www.AVMA.org

February 2 – Sled Dog Day

February 4 – Thank a Mailman Day

February 11 – Make A Friend Day - Make a Friend Day is a great opportunity to adopt a new "best friend" pet meet someone new, or do something to make a new friend.

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