Many families bring a dog into their family when their children are young. Instead of waiting for your
child to beg for a dog, consider adding a puppy early! An abundance of research shows that children
benefit tremendously from having a dog in the family. Obviously there are the wonderful benefits of
companionship, but adding a dog to your family can improve your child’s mental and physical health in
Social Benefits of Dog Ownership
One study observed preschoolers, and largely confirmed data related to older school-aged children. The
research was published in Pediatric Research, the official publication of American Pediatric Society,
European Society for Paediatric Research, and Society for Pediatric Research. According to the study,
42% of family units have a dog. The most remarkable findings were social benefits to the pre-school
aged children in these families – children showed a 30% reduction in the likelihood of conduct issues,
and a 40% reduction in social trouble with their peers. Families with dogs and pre-school children saw
their children play with their dogs at least three times per week in 77% of cases.
The study concluded “We found that pre-school children with a family dog were less likely to have
conduct problems, peer problems, and had a lower overall difficulties score than children from non-dog-
owning families, after adjusting for socio-demographic factors and child screen and sleep time.” These
findings demonstrate an incredible benefit to young children. Reductions of 30% and 40% over their
peers in social turmoil is a truly extraordinary result.
Physical Benefits of Dog Ownership
Remarkably, having a puppy at home can also improve your child’s physical health. While increased
physical activity due to playing with and walking your dog is an obvious benefit, there are other
The most well-documented physical improvement for children with dogs in their home comes from the
JAMA Pediatrics journal. They studied over half a million preschool and school aged children over
several years, and found that living with dog at home during a child’s early years is linked to a 13%
reduction in asthma. Other studies have shown that owning a dog provides a significant reduction in
environmental allergies for your child. These findings indicate that exposure to increased allergens from
the earliest days of childhood actually produces an immune system that is less hyperactive, and less
likely to develop allergies to common environmental allergens.
Mental Health Benefits of Dog Ownership
With multiple studies – and plenty of anecdotal evidence – showing a dramatic increase in mental health
difficulties for children of all ages, research into dogs and mental health is an important field of study. A
small study of 643 kids between six and seven years of age was conducted by Bassett Medical Center in
New York state indicated notable benefits for children with dogs. Their data showed that clinical anxiety
is significantly less likely to appear in children who have dogs in the home. For children without dogs,
the rate of diagnosed clinical anxiety is 21%. For those with dogs the rate is just 12%, which indicates
that dog ownership can reduce clinical anxiety in young children by nearly half.
How to Choose a Dog for Your Family
The hunt is on – you’ve decided to get a puppy, but how do you decide what to choose? Any pet that is
being introduced into a home with children needs to be carefully selected with your family dynamics in
mind – focus on breeds that are known to be child-friendly. Every breed has specific characteristics,
often selected over decades or centuries of breeding with certain goals in mind. Selecting a breed
known for their patience, intelligence, playfulness, and trainability will set your children and puppy up
for a wonderful friendship. Of course, we are happy to guide you! Check out our breed selector and
index to find the best addition to your family.
Helping Your Kids and Puppy Bond
One of the best ways to build a strong bond between your new puppy and your children is to involve
your child in the pup’s care. Depending on your child’s age, they can help with any number of tasks
including walking the dog, providing food and water, brushing your dog, and even assistance with
training. Remember that the dog should obey your child’s commands as well as your own, so involving
them in the training is an excellent plan. It is vitally important that you integrate your new puppy into
your daily life – the more they interact and work together, the more their bond will grow!
Adding a dog to your life just might be one of the best things you can do for your child’s overall
wellbeing. They’ll have a built in buddy, develop responsibility, and may even have improved social skills
along with benefits to their mental and physical health. If you’ve been considering adding a dog to your
family, reach out to us – our team would be delighted to walk you through the process of choosing the
perfect puppy for your family!