How a Shelter Dog Can Enrich Your Child’s Life

Pets enrich our lives greatly! Children specifically can benefit immensely from shelter pets.

How can a shelter pet enrich your child’s life? Children will learn about misfortune of others and the importance of helping out when you have the ability. Having children interact with or adopt a shelter pet will demonstrate that it is important to be a helpful and kind person. Pets can also be great teachers of empathy. Children will see that opening your home to a pet that has been neglected or abandoned is an extremely rewarding experience…and that is just the tip of the iceberg.

How a shelter dog can enrich your child's life

Dogs increase children’s sense of empathy and perspective.

It is a skill that will follow your children throughout their lives. The more empathetic and able to see other’s perspectives, the more helpful and successful they will be in social and emotional situations. Owning a dog or spending time volunteering at a shelter gives children a chance to think about what another living being needs. These are important skills for making friends and for adult relationships down the road.

How a shelter dog can enrich your child's life

Dog ownership teaches responsibility– in more ways than you’d think.

The daily tasks of dog ownership will teach your children about scheduling and the pride of caring for something other than themselves. This can help boost your child’s self-esteem exponentially. We know that it feels good to do a good job and to help others. Your children will experience this, too.

Adopting a shelter pet shows children the bigger and more complicated idea of taking responsibility in our society. Adopting opens the door to teaching your children about overpopulation and animal surrender rates, and to teaching them that it is our responsibility to help those that have been forgotten in order to have a kinder world. Your actions as a parent show your child how to act in this world, and adopting a shelter pet is a statement in community and social responsibility. Explain to them why your family is choosing to adopt from a shelter instead of somewhere else. These lessons will be valuable forever.

How a shelter dog can enrich your child's life

A dog can be a child’s first best friend. 

Dogs teach children about friendship. For some kids, their relationship with their pets can be their first experience with companionship. Dogs are very loyal and protective. They are also wonderful secret keepers, and love to hear all of your child’s stories and jokes. A dog can be the perfect friend for a child that has a harder time opening up or making friends. Dogs can also be helpful for children that are experiencing delays in speech. Talking and interacting with animals presents a low pressure situation for children to practice speaking and other social skills!

Dogs have also been known to be extremely therapeutic for children that have endured trauma. In this situation a shelter dog specifically may be a wonderful choice because you can explain that this dog hasn’t always had the easiest time but is still able to have a happy and joyful life.

How a shelter dog can enrich your child's life
Want your child to experience the benefits of shelter dogs but can’t adopt at this time? HSSA offers a great kid’s program called Hand in Paw Kid’s Club.  

The Hand in Paw Kids Club is for children ages 6-11, who love animals and want to create a better future for animals. The club is a great opportunity for children to learn about proper animal care, safe handling, respect for wild animals as well as pets. The club promotes kindness, compassion and empathy for all animals and living beings.

H.I.P. Kid’s Club events run during the school year and are held monthly. Families can sign up for any event that sparks interest in their child. Events are either free or at a discounted fee for HIP members. Additionally, during the summer, HIP members will receive discount for our numerous summer camps. Most events are held during the weekends or on Friday evenings.

How a shelter dog can enrich your child's life

This is a great way to help your children develop skills in empathy and also interact with other children. HSSA also offers summer camps that give children experiences and knowledge about animal care and handling. Click here for our summer camp dates for 2017.

Do you have more reasons children benefit from shelter pets? Let us know in the comments below!

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