The benefits of a family pet

Pets are great for kids, and offer unique opportunities to learn responsibility, trust, compassion, respect and patience. Plus, they allow children to express themselves through playtime with their pets. But remember: They will be the ones taking care of the pet for life. Will your child still want to care for them when they’re older?

At what point do you expect your child to take care of a dog or cat completely on their own? You should discuss these responsibilities in advance so that everyone is clear on what they’ll need to do and so that you know who will be responsible if something goes wrong. Pets help teach important life skills like responsibility, trust and compassion which are essential skills children carry with them throughout their entire lives.


When a pet passes away, it’s important to teach children about the grieving process.


The first step to developing an understanding for others is making sure that their boundaries are respected. Young children need guidance, but it can be difficult to teach these skills at a young age. The first step is firmer boundary setting and reinforcing the benefits of listening.


It’s widely known that being responsible and showing unconditional love are two surefire ways to boost a child’s self-esteem. Young children understand the responsibility they should take in a relationship, which also helps develop their sense of self-worth.


No other relationship has so much potential for child development. With a loyal pet, the child can learn important social and emotional skills, making it an excellent example of how to treat others that are important to the family.

Physical activity.

Exercise like walking, throwing a ball, or playing tennis is always going to be great for you.

Physical activity.

Sometimes bonding with a pet can take time — time to learn tricks and to build good behaviors.

Social Skills. 

One of the best ways to break the ice is to bring in your pet. Pets have this charming and inviting quality that invokes lots of conversations, and they will help improve a child’s social skills.


If you’re thinking about owning a pet as a way to keep your kids healthy, happy, and motivated, it may be worth considering the benefits of owning a pet during their early years.


Children who grow up with a pet do so with increased empathy towards animals and increased empathy in general.

Research shows children who live with a dog can possibly have fewer ear infections and respiratory tract infections, and require fewer antibiotics, perhaps because the exposure to animals at a young age stimulates their immune system. Research found in the Time article, “Why Dogs and Cats Make Babies Healthier,” indicates that exposure to pet dander could prime babies’ still-developing immune systems and be able to fend off common allergens and bugs.

Young children’s immune systems are more capable of facing them. Kids with a dog did better than those with a cat. The exposure has to happen early in life. More information can also be found in the CBS News article, “Babies with dogs less likely to develop colds, ear infections as infants.”When thinking of which pet to add to your family it’s best you choose one that fits your lifestyle. A fish, turtle or hamster will require less playtime than a cat or dog.

If you prefer long walks, spending time outdoors tinkering or driving around town then maybe a dog is perfect for your family. If you are looking for an animal that doesn’t require much care for its space it may be best stick with the fish or turtle because they don’t need as much attention whether its indoors or

To learn about the positive impact children and families experience due to MSU Extension programs, check out our 2016 impact report. “Preparing Young Children for Success” and “Preparing The Future Generation For Success” highlight how Michigan 4-H helped our community members achieve their personal and professional aspirations. Other impact reports can be downloaded from Michigan 4-H, website.

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