Can having a dog help your child become more compassionate and empathetic? It certainly can. This goes far beyond feeling a sense of "responsibility" in regards to feeding and watering the pet.
Petowners forge deep and lasting bonds with their canines. Dogs seem to have an innate ability to pick up on subtle nuances of people's emotions and respond by gently nuzzling them, laying their heads in their laps, sticking near them. If you are a dog-owner you likely have experienced this.
There is no question that Fido brings much to our lives: unconditional love, humor, laughter and more. We may teach them to do tricks such as rolling over, doing the "creepy crawl", the ole' bone on the nose trick (as seen above) and more. But dogs can teach us just as much.
Dog's Can Teach Kids Compassion
1. Respect The care and keeping of your pet help your kids recognize and respect the basic needs of all creatures: food, water, exercise, play, love, companionship. This can start to set into motion the idea that every living thing has these needs, which extends
to our fellow humans.
2. Selflessness Caring for a dog helps a child look beyond himself and demonstrate concern for another living, breathing entity. These roots of compassion can then encompass peers and humankind.
3. Altruism Pets allow kids to demonstrate acts of kindness where nothing is expected in return. Giving a dog a treat, playing fetch with a dog, taking the dog for a walk, petting the dog, and extending energy for the benefit of the pet are all acts of kindness and compassion. The pet doesn't really provide any of these services back to its human companion, but does serve up a HUGE dose of love and unconditional acceptance.
Fun Ways to Ramp Up Compassion
Looking for some fun and creative ways to encourage compassion? Why not engage your child in some of these activities (acts of kindness) for Spot. If you want to extend the learning, share some of the bounty with neighboring pooches (with permission, of course)!
|Photo: Bunny Roo Beagle|
You can find the directions at Bunny Roo Beagle! LOVE these! So cute!
|Photo: Linda Lyell @ A Kitchen Muse|
Arent' these adorable? Find the recipe at A Kitchen Muse. These would be soooo sweet to share with a neighbor dog, too!
|Photo: Inspiration Laboratories|
Find the No Bake Dog Treats recipe at Inspiration Laboratories. These are a way "cool" treat to make on a hot summer day, when you do not want to heat up the kitchen any more than it already is.
Dog Frosty Treats
|Photo: Brett Win Hub Pages|
Another "cool" treat for dogs! Find them at Brett Win Hub Pages!
My Rescue Pooch
Here's the dog which inspires compassion and kindness at our house. He was rescued from an abusive home at the age of one. He did not know what a "treat" was and had never gone for "ride". He knows what both are now! He has helped instill compassion, kindness and more in my kids. Thanks, Trooper, you have taught us more than we have taught you!
As always, from Kidlutions, we wish you Happy Parenting!
For a book that shows how dogs help kids deal with feelings, go here.
Related story: Helping Children Cope with the Death of a Pet