Are you considering adding a furry friend to your family?
Multiple studies link having a pet to the mental and physical wellbeing of a child. And the bigger the dog, the bigger the benefit! That’s what we like to believe, anyway.
Below, we’re taking a look at 5 reasons your kid should grow up with a large dog.
1. Teaching Empathy
Empathy is one of the single most important traits you can instill in a child. But it’s also one of the most difficult to teach.
Anyone who’s ever seen a kid snatch a toy knows how selfish they can be. They learn empathy from caring about those around them and receiving care in turn.
Living with a dog teaches your child to care about the wellbeing of a living creature with needs. For that, they’ll receive the reward of affection and cuddles – the perfect positive reinforcement.
They might lack a human’s range of facial expressions, but dogs communicate their feelings in a simple and readable way. Your child can pick up on these signals and learn to figure out what your dog is thinking. Dogs are also sensitive to their owners’ emotions.
That builds a bond that will last for a long time. Through that bond, your child can learn to appreciate the needs of another creature, particularly one they have some power over. Learning to use that power in the right way is a key element of empathy.
2. Developing Respect for Animals
There’s nothing like growing up with a dog to teach a child respect for animals.
Dogs have a surprising level of emotional complexity. They “speak” a language humans understand. That sets them apart from animals like rabbits or hamsters, who children can see as abstract objects.
By growing up with a dog, your child will respect that animals are people, too. They’ll learn that their dog has emotions, wants, and fears.
But respecting animals doesn’t just mean caring for them. It also means appreciating their size and strength. Growing up with a big dog teaches your children that animals are powerful and can even be dangerous when they want to be.
While your big dog will make a loving pet, your child will also learn that not all animals are little bunny rabbits!
Developing a healthy respect for animals puts your child in a positive emotional place. Like empathy, it’s a trait associated with selflessness and a caring personality.
3. Their Placid Temperament
Some parents worry about getting a dog when there’s a child in the picture. Even if a dog isn’t dangerous, it can be ill-tempered and snappy.
On the whole, larger dogs tend to have a more placid temperament than their small cousins. Perhaps they don’t feel the need to prove anything. Perhaps it simply takes too much energy to be in beast mode all the time when you’re that large. Either way, large dogs are often gentle giants.
That can help bring peace of mind to owning a dog. It means your dog is unlikely to nip or snap when it’s feeling grouchy. Big dogs often have the patience and temperament of a bounce house.
It’s important that your child associates your dog with positive feelings. A small, nippy dog might create resentment, which could even lead to bad behavior from both child and dog.
4. Building Confidence
It takes a lot of confidence to handle huge dog breeds, especially when you’re small. It’s like trying to call a grizzly bear to heel.
Confidence is a valuable life lesson, though, so it’s good to learn it early. Living with a large dog breed can help your child develop a sense of assertiveness – and a loud voice!
Large dogs are a great way to practice confidence skills. Unlike humans, they (usually) respond simply to commands, which gives your child immediate feedback. And seeing something larger than you are responding to a command is a neat demonstration that confidence is often a case of mind over matter.
It also teaches your child about positive reinforcement and incentivizing. Dogs rarely respond well to frustrated yelling. They speak the language of treats and positive reinforcement. Sound familiar? That’s not too different to how people work.
There’s also something about hanging out with a dog larger than you are that makes you feel like you can take on the world. Your child will find they have more public confidence when they have a bear in their squad.
5. Family Safety
For some, it’s only when we have children that we realize how fragile things can be. Worrying over a baby’s every cough and sniffle opens your mind to the threats we all face as we go through life.
For parents, that’s often a habit that never quite goes away. That’s why it’s important you feel in control of your family’s safety. Owning a dog, especially a big one, is a great way to do that.
Large dogs are loyal, loud, and intimidating in the right circumstances. Potential burglars don’t need to know your dog is a big softie!
A powerful bark could be enough to save your family in the event of a break-in or a house fire. Dogs are also attentive to their pack – they’ll make sure no one wanders too far from the family picnic when you’re out and about.
There are numerous stories of dogs saving the lives of their family. That’s why we trust dogs with important jobs, too. Safety is always on a dog’s mind, in a way that even humans can’t truly appreciate.
So let them do what they do best and look after your family.
Large Dogs Make Large Hearts
Growing up with a dog is one of life’s missable gems. Your child will never have the chance to do it again once they’re old enough, so give them that gift while they’re still young. Not only will you provide for your child’s safety, but you’ll also teach them important life lessons and give them a friend to love.
Want to know more about big dogs? Take a look at our breeds section.
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A big-dog lover, successful marketing executive, and website developer, Brian founded Canine Weekly in 2016. Brian lives just outside of Seattle with his wife and child. Brian grew up with labs and the family is eager to get another Labrador once their newborn is a little older. Brian is the former owner of Canine Weekly.