Benefits of Being Around Animals as a Young Child

By Teacher Shannon

Animals alone can provide many benefits to student’s social and emotional development that after knowing about them you may find them hard to ignore. For starters “Studies show that dogs reduce stress, anxiety and depression; ease loneliness; encourage exercise and improve your overall health. For example, people with dogs tend to have lower blood pressure and are less likely to develop heart disease” (1).  There are also many studies that show the brain chemicals serotonin and oxytocin are increased when we are around animals as well as the stress chemical cortisol being lowered which can help bring students out of a stress response. This is one reason why dogs, cats, guinea pigs, and rabbits have all been known to be used in animal therapy. These animals can provide companionship without even needing to talk. For a child to be responsive to body language, the wants, and needs in an animal can further help them develop interpersonal skills with their peers. 

Not just being around animals but taking care of another living being is a valuable life skill. Animals require attention, food, water, bathing, and exercise. They are always there and can create a sense of responsibility and empathy in a child regardless of how the child is feeling that day. Some animals require living outside and can help your child connect with nature and the natural world around them. Other animals such as a dog that you may keep in your house, still require outdoor time in order to get exercise. This allows your family an opportunity to have a built in walk everyday and can provide many benefits to your cardiovascular, respiratory, and mental health. 

Animals can also provide many learning opportunities for students, your child can learn about what foods an animal should eat, different animal habitats, good hygiene for animals, food that comes from animals such as eggs and honey, etc. 

A few ways to bring animals into your child’s life in case you are unable to support a full time pet may include…

  • Visiting a petting zoo
  • Volunteering at an animal shelter
  • Offering to pet sit for friends or family members

I hope you will take this information into consideration and you and your whole family get to enjoy some time with furry friends.