Many teenagers ask their parents for a dog, and it can be tough to decide as a family whether the time is right to add a canine companion. A dog can be a great way to teach your teenager to be more responsible, but a pet can also help with mental health. By getting a dog, your teen gets to experience the joy of owning and bonding with a true friend.
Image – free for commercial use
Pets can be especially beneficial for teens who are struggling with emotional or psychological issues. Many teenagers struggle with their mental health, so the idea of them being helped by owning a dog is worth investigating. For serious problems, professional therapy should be sought, but a dog can help with your teen’s self-care.
Growing Up With A Pet
Your teenage years are a turbulent time. Teenagers often start to pull away from their families at this time, as they search for their own identities, separate from their parents. Caught between childhood and adulthood, many teens struggle to find their place in the world, leading to a sense of confusion.
Many young people lack the skills in coping that they need to deal with troublesome emotions. Sometimes teenagers are left to face these worries alone, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Young people with a pet tend to function better emotionally than those without. Pets give teens a sense of purpose and force them to interact, even at times when they might not feel much like socializing.
Teens who care for an animal build stronger social relationships. Caring for a dog can help teenagers to connect more to their community too. High levels of attachments to a pet can also help teenagers to feel more connected to others, feel more empathy, and have more self-confidence.
If you’re thinking about getting your teen a dog from somewhere like Lucky Labs, then you might want to consider these benefits.
Dogs are easier to hug than a person
A lot of teens aren’t naturally very affectionate, but a pet can help to turn that around. Animals will always demand (and get) attention. It’s much harder for a teenager to ignore an animal seeking attention and expressing their love. This can be very important for teens who aren’t feeling much affection from their peers or are feeling more distant from their parents.
Dogs are all ears during tough times
Many young people don’t feel that adults understand them or what they’re going through. This means they’re likely to bottle up or push down their feelings instead of talking about them, which isn’t helping. A dog can be used as a listening ear, which is a great way to process and put into words any confusing thoughts and emotions that they might be having. After all, dogs are the best listeners.
Dogs melt away stress and anxiety
There are few things as effective as petting an animal for soothing and calming a stressed-out mind. Playing with a dog increases levels of oxytocin, which is a hormone that reduces stress, and decreases cortisol, the stress hormone. Having a pet is good for your physical health too. Owning a pet is associated with a decrease in blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels, which all reduce the risk of a heart attack.
Dogs help with socialization and communication
Owning a dog can help young people to enhance their social skills, which is especially useful for teenagers with autism. Animals help young people to feel more assertive and increase their confidence when they interact with other people. Having a dog gives your teen something to talk about if they get stuck for conversation, and also act as a way of getting people to engage with them in social situations.
Having a dog can also help you to meet new people and start conversations, something which teenagers can struggle to do. Many teens are caught up in social interactions online, whereas a dog is a great ice breaker for real-life social situations. People always want to stop and talk to a dog.
Dogs are always by your side
A dog is always there for you, even when things are at their hardest. People can come and go in life, but a dog is loyal and with you through every step. A dog can help to fight feelings of depression and anxiety as they provide companionship. Owning a dog can have a positive impact on a person’s self-esteem, as well as other psychological benefits such as lessening feelings of loneliness and helping someone to become less introverted.
Dogs provide structure
Dogs are a great way to teach a teen to be more responsible and are also a good way of adding structure. Structure is helpful for teenagers who may be feeling adrift from their normal life. No matter how disconnected you feel, a dog will still need you to be up and ready to take it for a walk at least once a day. A dog can help to fight the urge to stay in all day when you feel down, which is an urge that teenagers can often fall victim too.
Dogs make your brain release the love chemical
Spending time with a dog releases the hormone oxytocin, sometimes known as the love chemical. This hormone plays a part in bonding and trust, as well as reducing stress. This feeling of being bonded to your dog can be very beneficial to a young person who is suffering from PTSD, anxiety, or depression.
Dogs also help you to release endorphins. Just seeing a dog can trigger your brain into releasing these endorphins, which are natural anti-depressants. Even when you’re doing the jobs that are a less pleasant part of dog-owning, like cleaning up after them, you’ll feel more positive just by having the dog around.
Dogs can help against allergies and asthma
Children who grow up in homes with dogs or other furry pets are less likely to develop common allergies. Children who are exposed to dogs and cats are a lot less likely to develop allergies such as dust, grass, ragweed, and pet allergies, and are at a lower risk of asthma. Allergies can make people become lethargic, apathetic, and struggle with insomnia. These problems make young people more vulnerable to mental health struggles, like depression.
Dogs make you laugh
Dogs can be very funny companions and are bound to make you laugh every day. Whether they’re being clumsy, adorable, or silly, your dog will cheer your teen up by making them laugh. Laughter is one of the best forms of stress relief.
Owning a dog can be very positive for people of all ages. If your teenager is begging you for a dog, it’s worth thinking about all the ways that the might benefit from dog ownership. Dogs are good for mental and physical health, as well as teaching your teenager to be more responsible and social. If you think your teenager is ready for the responsibility of owning an animal, the benefits could make the decision for you. Just remember that a dog is a big commitment, and you should be certain that your child is capable of providing the care that a dog will need. Agree in advance how much responsibility you as the parent will have, such as feeding and bathing. Choose a breed that suits your home and lifestyle, and prepare to see a real change in your teenager and the way they feel.
This is Collaborative post.