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6 Reasons Why Pets Are Good for Kids

Chris Hamer, co-author of Parenting with Pets and a mother and owner of horses, dogs, chickens and ducks, shares six ways having a pet can benefit kids.

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1. It Teaches Responsibility and Promotes Self-Esteem

Completing tasks such as walking the dog or cleaning the birdcage gives kids a sense of accomplishment. Even children as young as two can help fill the food bowl.

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2. It Increases Nonverbal Communication

In a Kansas State University study of preschoolers, those who had a cat or dog showed more empathy compared with preschoolers who didn’t have a pet.

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3. It Alleviates Loneliness

With parents out working during the day, kids appreciate having a pet’s company after school. “It’s nice to have a greeting committee,” says Hamer.

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4. It Revs Up Reading Skills

Some schools and libraries in Canada and the United States offer READ (Reading Education Assistance Dog) programs, in which children read aloud to attentive pooches. Students who may be reluctant to read out loud at school may feel more confident reading to animals. “Kids up to age seven assume the dogs listen and understand,” says Hamer.

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5. It Decreases Homework Anxiety

Petting animals can lower blood pressure blood pressure, so having a pet nearby could help prepare kids to tackle even their least favourite school subjects.

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6. It Keeps Families Talking

“Pets are a conduit between parents and kids,” says Hamer. So even cleaning the aquarium together can help open the lines of communication.