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Dogs and children
"Children can develop a respect for animals when they live alongside them."

Dogs and children

Many of us have grown up with pets and can’t imagine life without them - the cat that slept on our bed, the dog that waited patiently at the gate until we got home from school. And now our own children are experiencing similar companionship and fun. Children and pets just seem to belong together.

Children and pets have a special relationship. While the pet is often entertained by having a child around, there are also many benefits for children in having a pet in their home:

  • Children can develop a respect for animals when they live alongside them and this helps prepare them for later life.
  • The child learns about the responsibilities in caring for another living creature – even if they don’t always follow through with their tasks!
  • Children with pets may be popular with their peers. The antics of a pet can make good topics of conversation, good school news items and children even learn to read body language from watching their pets.
  • Children may interact more with other members of the family when there is a pet in the house.
  • Many children enjoy playing outdoors with their pets and those families with dogs are more likely to undertake physical activity as a family, like walking their dog.
  • Pets can help balance the increasing presence of technology. A pet is a good reason to turn off the computer or video game and have a play or a cuddle.
  • Pets provide unconditional love
  • Children consider pets to be very important in their lives. Many will tell their secrets to their pets and their pet provides a willing listening ear.

Which pets are best for children?

Children can benefit from having all kinds of pets in their lives. Australians love their dogs and there is no doubt that man’s best friend can also be a boy’s best mate or a girl’s cherished companion.

Labradors are family favourites as are Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, for those who like a smaller breed.

About Dr Joanne Righetti

Dr Joanne RighettiDr Joanne Righetti is an animal behaviourist, educating the public and professionals in all aspects of the human–animal relationship. Her background is in zoology, with a PhD in animal behaviour and a counselling diploma – qualifications which enable her to work with all sorts of animals – including the human variety! Joanne likes to help pet owners understand their pet's behaviour and solve any pet behaviour problems. She also consults to a variety of organisations including non-profit organisations, commercial companies and councils and is involved in a variety of media including regular spots on radio. Joanne is an honorary associate of the Faculty of Veterinary Sciences, University of Sydney. Find out more about Joanne at

Last updated: 24 April 2015 at 04:58 PM
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