5 Reasons Furry Friends Could Make Children Smarter

Having a pet is good for kids.

Children benefit from having a pet.

(Rob Hainer / Shutterstock.com)

Almost every parent out there is familiar with the question, “can we please get a pet?” There’s something instinctive about a child’s dream for a fluffy companion in their home. Around 70 percent of American homes currently own a pet, according to the Insurance Information Institute

So what is it about four-legged friends that make for such a good addition to the family unit? Not only do kids and animals together make for an adorable family photo, but it turns out having a pet can actually improve a child’s wellbeing and maturity, reported the Huffington Post. Here are five ways that having a pet can positively impact kids’ all round intelligence.


One of the most important human skills is communication. While little kids are always being talked to, it’s equally important that a child feels like they can impart wisdom and be listened to, as well. 

Swedish education researcher Agneta Svensson explained in a study, a little more about the connection between pets and positive communication skills in children. 

“The children said that they could talk to all the animals and that the animals are listening”, she wrote in the study. “When a child is doing activities with an animal or tries to teach an animal some exercises, the child receives a response from the animal. This leads on to new experiences and an increased knowledge regarding social behavior.”

Young girl reading to her pet.

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Responsibility and Confidence

Many parents who would love to bring an animal into their home are nevertheless wary about the level of responsibility a child can handle in taking care of their pet. However, as HuffPost reported, children as little as three years old can take responsibility for simple tasks like filling their pet’s food and water bowls. 

Older kids can be given more complex tasks, like making sure that their dog goes for a walk in the morning, or that their cat’s litter box is changed regularly. These small acts help children to understand that they are truly capable of caring for other beings, and in turn, can lead to a child being more confident as they begin to navigate their lives.

Children become more confident if they take care of their pets.

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Mental Wellness

One of the most important factors to a child's success is their mental and physical wellbeing. The CDC researched whether there was a link between pet ownership and anxiety in children. 

The study took a sample of US children between 18 months and ten years old, and found that 21 percent of children without a dog in the home met the cut-off for a diagnosis of childhood anxiety. This compared to only 12 percent of children with dogs.

The lowered rate of anxiety was attributed to several factors: more interaction with other dog-owners, less separation anxiety with their pet as a constant companion, and a decrease in the overall stress levels in children.

Petting a cat can help reduce anxiety and stress.

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Active Lifestyle

The brain, like every other muscle in the body, needs regular exercise to function properly. MentalHelp.net warned of some of the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle, from illnesses like heart disease and diabetes, to negatively affecting brain chemistry. 

So it turns out that those daily runs around the park are not only good for tiring out active children and pets, it’s actually keeping their brains active, too, and setting these kids up for healthy futures

Boy is actively playing with his pet..

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Increased Happiness  

Above all, one of the best ways to foster success in any child is for them to grow up in a happy environment and having a pet can play an important role in childrens’ happiness, according to the HuffPost. . 

In fact, there is a connection between IQ and happiness, with a higher childhood IQ score being linked to a higher level of long-term emotional regulation, according to Psychology Today

Regardless of intelligence, every child deserves a best friend they can trust, confide in, and play games with for hours on end. Four-legged friends are excellent candidates for this role, and parents can be sure that bringing a pet into their lives will truly make their children shine with joy. 

A boy and his best friend.

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