How Your Dog Makes Your Kids Smarter

I recently wrote a blog about how pets can make your family healthier –  it’s also been recognized that kids who grow up with pets are more emotionally intelligent and compassionate.  I’m sure that you have heard of the traditional measure of intelligence, the intelligence quotient or “IQ”.   But, there’s also something called the EQ which in a human, is emotional intelligence quotient.   The “EQ” has been linked to early academic successes more than IQ.   IQ is thought to be unchangeable which means that you can’t really change it by studying.  However, emotional quotient, or EQ, can actually get better and improve with practice over time.  In a recent study, it was found that animal friends can help children do that by helping to improve and cultivate the very skills that lead to better emotional intelligence. Little did the dogs and cats know (who weren’t even trying), that it just comes naturally.

Compassion, Self-Esteem, Stress And Cognitive DevelopmentPixabay Image 470939

Compassion is among one of these skills that are developed by kids with pets.  I would imagine that’s why both of my children have grown to be compassionate adults!  Having had pets in the house from when they were infants and before they learned to contribute to the care and feeding of our dogs!  At three years old, my son was able to set a bowl of food on the floor for our boxer.  I also distinctly remember one time correcting him for trying to bite the dog in my efforts to teach him to be gentle and nice to the dog.  This was a lesson on both our parts, and it helped develop his sense of compassion.  Part of a parent’s duty is to supervise their children during the first few interactions and use it as a teaching moment with their child when around pets.  Once a child has learned that, then their memory and understanding of a life outside themselves is stimulated every time they interact with an animal

Self-esteem is also developed with interaction and caring for pets because assigned tasks like brushing the dog or filling the dogs water bowl gives the child a sense of accomplishment and helps to make them feel independent and competent.  It is extremely important especially for children with low self-esteem, to have a pet in the house

Cognitive development is also greatly improved because children interact and play with pet’s talking to them and even sometimes reading to them.  It has been discovered that by performing these tasks in a low stress environment, it benefits verbal development in the youngest of children.


Pets are a huge stress reliever and reducer for children, provide emotional support, and are an additional way to navigate negative emotions.  When kids are feeling stressed, pets can make people and kids especially, feel unconditionally excepted and nonjudgmental, and as an added benefit, since dogs can’t speak they are great listeners.

Pixabay Image 1113806The Cycle Of Life For Children

My children have had an early understanding of the cycle of life because talking about birth and death with kids can be pretty hard for us parents so learning about those topics through the lives of the animals that we share a household with is an easier way for both parent and child to learn about, and teach the basics of life.  Experiencing the death of a pet can be extremely difficult and painful for all involved – parent and child.  It can also be a very important learning experience because the way that the parents and others near and dear to them deal with the situation has an influence on how the children cope with death in general through their lives.  So it is important for parents to discuss their feelings of sadness openly and to share their feelings with the child.  In our household we have lost five dogs through the years, with one being a 12 week old puppy.   It’s important as a parent to help your child deal with the emotions associated with the loss.

My Final Thoughts

All of the positive benefits depend of course, on the structure of the family, the number of siblings involved and, of course your child’s own genetic tendencies.  It’s mostly children with a few siblings where the youngest of them often becomes the most pet oriented.  If these concepts sounds familiar it’s because the same benefits are relevant for adults too – including the social support and stress reduction of owning a pet!

I would love to hear your comments, feedback stories and ideas.

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