27 February 2015 | Life with your best friend

Pet-friendly homes are happy homes

The benefits of pets in the family 

When you picture a scene of domestic bliss, chances are dogs are happily playing in the yard, or a cat is cuddled up on someone’s lap. It’s not just a PR stunt, pets do actually make happy homes. So if you are trying to make the big decision about whether to get little Johnny a dog, or Molly that kitten she’s been begging for, take a look at the benefits of having a pet in the family.

Teaches responsibility: Okay, so parents actually teach the responsibility but they do it through the pet. At the age of three, children are capable of putting food in a bowl. Even if yours are younger than that, just watching you care for your pet instils a sense of responsibility in them. They will also learn to clean up after them and groom them. Not only is it great to hand over some of the chores, it gives your children a sense of ownership and pride in being part of something bigger than just themselves.

Improves physical and motor skills:

Playing games such as fetch or chasing each other around the house benefits children’s physical and motor skills dramatically. (It also tires them out before bed time – bonus!)

Provides endless entertainment:

Playing with a pet is 100 times better than sitting in front of the TV.

Emotional upliftment:

Spend a few minutes patting your dog, or stroking your cat, or talking to your pet bird, and you’ll notice it’s an immediate mood-enhancer. Put a sad child in the presence of an animal and you’re guaranteed a smile in minutes. Research has even shown that people with pets are less likely to suffer from depression.

Boosts self-esteem:

Your child might feel too shy to read in front of their peers (or even their teacher) but research has shown that children will happily read to their pets.

Encourages social skills:

Owning a pet is a great conversation starter and a child is more likely to approach another child if they are playing with a pet.

Therapy for people with disabilities:

People (not only children) with disabilities have been known to respond incredibly well to pets and show improved emotional and physical attributes after spending time with animals. Therapy dogs in particular can be trained to help practically (opening doors etc) as well as emotionally – The Healing Power of Therapy Dogs.

Family bonding:

Weekend activities or holidays are often made around accommodating your pets – which gets you out of the house as a family, so enjoy the close bonding time all together. Make no mistake, getting a pet is a decision not to be taken lightly. But once your bundle of fur is ensconced in your home, you will reap the benefits and the rewards.

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