A Dog’s Purpose

Haven't seen that movie, or refused to watch it? Here's a less teary version of what all pets really do for your kids - and you.
By Vince Wong
Published on Monday, 15 July 2019

Parents who have had a dog or a cat earlier in their lives would be fully aware of the unadulterated joy a pet can bring.

Studies reveal that kids benefit as much from dog ownerships as adults do, so it is never too early to let one indulge in the pleasure of keeping a pet.

Here are some benefits your kids might enjoy.

1.         Companionship
Company is vitally important to children, and while family remains the heart of social life, research has proven that pets provide a whole new contour to companionship.

Besides filling up the emotional gaps in human relationships, children are often the recipient of unfailing love and friendship which pets willingly give.

2.         Physical, mental and emotional development
Introducing a dog to the family is a great way to boost a child’s self-esteem. When children realize that their actions can directly impact a living thing in a positive manner, like seeing the dog get clean and comfortable after a good bath, they recognize their self-efficacy and feel assured of their own behaviours.

Moreover, in the process of learning how to care for their pets, children knowingly pick up new skills that provide a head-start in developing a whole myriad of creative endeavours.

Teaching a dog new tricks is also a fun and productive process that entices most young children, and it is through their eagerness to play with the pet that a child’s mind is continuously stimulated.

3.         Life’s lessons
Children, being natural learners, stand to gain a lot from having a pet of their own.

Pet ownership is undoubtledly a brilliant journey in which children learn values that will stand them in good stead in life since young, and these include the more obvious ones such as empathy and responsibility.

Apart from these, owning a pet also teaches a child about discipline. Witnessing that their actions directly affect the well-being of their pet reinforces the importance of self-regulation.

In this way, children can also be taught to respect animals and consider their feelings.

Pets also provide children with an important avenue to learn about their connection with nature.

Through constant interaction with their pets, the child realizes that the domesticated animal, like themselves, is a product of nature and subject to nature’s laws of life, sickness and death.

Plus, keeping pets, especially those with short life-spans, teaches them to understand about the cycle of life and cope with loss at an early age.

4.         Special needs
Having a pet in the family also reduces the frustration and negative emotions that accompany children with special needs.

Besides offering unconditional love and acceptance, the pet can also be the source of comfort, companionship and communication to children who are more self-conscious or reclusive, enhancing their mental health.

5.         Family cohesion
As the saying goes “A family who plays together stays together”, and pet ownership is one of the best ways to foster family cohesion in daily life.

Besides engaging in enjoyable pet activities together, keeping a pet also embarks a family on a journey towards learning and growing.

Besides owning pets, volunteering with animal shelters is an excellent way of strengthening familial bonds. Apart from spending meaningful time together, parents who display genuine respect and passion for both the animals and society are likely to become natural role models for their children.

What about us?
Let’s not kid ourselves: most of these points apply directly to us grown-ups too.

After all, many of us are still learning how to adult – and we owe an immense debt of gratitude of how far we’ve come to our pets.

So give your doggy or kitty an extra hug and kiss when you get home tonight! They’ve earned it!

And so have you!