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A dog in the family can certainly help your children develop a sense of responsibility from an early age. It has been shown that children raised with animals are generally more sociable with people that have animals. They also tend to develop better communication skills and are less likely to develop allergies to animal hair. But sometimes children appear a little too enthusiastic in their relationship with a pet. Education and supervision of the child are needed, especially at a young age.

Newborns - According to its genetic heritage, personality and experience, each dog will have a different reaction with the newborn. To avoid any incident, ensure that the dog’s bed be far from the baby's room.  When the child starts to walk, your dog will eat, rest and sleep in a secure area that you can close off with a baby gate. A niche inside (or credit) is an ideal den for a dog. Try to install it before the baby arrives so that your pet can get used to it. When the dog is in its den, it will have a haven of peace and you will know that your child can walk safely about. The arrival of a baby can affect the odor of your dog's territory and result in possible disturbances of mood. Some dogs sulk, others become agitated.  They’re trying to attract the attention of the older members of the family.  More attention will help the dog to associate the presence of the baby with good things! If the appearance of a baby worries you, try not to hug or comfort the dog, since it only reinforces his anxiety.  Instead, wait until he relaxes.  Then you may start playing with him and cuddle with him in another room.  But many dogs naturally play the role of nurse with a new baby.  Gradually, as the child grows, they become useful protectors and playmates with the child. Make sure that pieces of food do not fall off the high chair because they could easily become a source of food for your dog!

Teach young children to treat the dog respectfully.  There some very important rules that parents should follow. Parents should teach their children how to gently stroke their pet; and teach the dog to respond to the instructions of the child in exchange for rewards.  Teach children that the best place to pat the dog is on top of the head and along the back.  Teach children not to pull the tail of a dog.  The dog must always be left alone when he eats, sleeps or is in her dress.  Children should wash their hands after petting the dog.

What are the benefits of a relationship between children and dogs?  Beyond the physiological benefits brought by the pet, it reveals some interesting results over the psychological ones.  Some studies have shown the positive effects of an animal not only on the physical activity -- including walking them -- but also the psychological welfare of dog owners. Thus, the animal could contribute notably to reduce daily stress.

During hospitalization and convalescence, it is recognized that the linking of pets with patients is beneficial because it compensates for the lack of human contact. This relationship helps to fight against the depersonalization of the individual related to the atmosphere of being in this type of institution.
Similarly in the elderly, the animal is acts like real company. It fills an emotional need.  It maintains the identity of the elderly person and conveys a sense of confidence and security. The animal acts as a secure, accountable, maintains balance, avoiding inactivity and reduces feelings of loneliness.

Several studies and conferences have been conducted in children and troubled teens. This is especially true in children with autism, who have changed their social behavior not only with the animal, but also with their surroundings.

Professor Hubert Montagner, who is a relations specialist with children and animal life.  He stresses that bringing out or making functional core competencies that enables the child to continue its successful life skills.

According to Hubert Montagner, the animal used in school would allow the autistic child, mute or self-centered, out of its isolation and to express his true personality.  Furthermore, it would channel aggression.  Affiliative behaviors have emerged, and has eventually helped in socializing-with educators.  Finally, the animal would better structure the awkward gestures of children and those experiencing difficulties in coordination.  An example of this is the recent experience in the United States during in which children with autism or mental disabilities have made significant behavioral progress when in contact with tame dolphins.  It is a perfect illustration and opens new therapeutic perspectives for man.

Hubert Montagner wrote: 

"Who has not seen children deemed unstable, hyperactive (who "do not take up"), unable to focus their attention, become more stable in their behavior and attention, less turbulent or "erratic", since their gaze found itself caught by the "spectacle" of animal life? By focusing on a cat playing with a cap, a dog bringing the stick that he launched, a hamster that puts food in reserve in his jowls, etc.., the look is organized. Both mobile and supported, it allows children to capture extensive information, give them  meaning and organize information and consistent questions. L 'unstable, hyperactive, one that did not seem to be able to fix his attention, show and prove on this occasion, they are able to develop capabilities, visual attention.  Whereas, usually, their eyes scanning the table or the book without stopping, or it is fleeting (which does not allow them to capture, and thus deal with the information essential to the construction of knowledge and learning), and structure themselves as individuals arranging attentive responses adapted to the information they receive from the animal. "

Sociologists and specialists in communication and education found that there are major virtues to having an animal.  Thus, one of the essential contributions of owning a pet is its ability to facilitate contacts and interactions, not only with friends but also with strangers.
Animals are primarily a vehicle for communication.  Among adults, this function is exercised particularly during the promenade of the animal. Moreover, children recognize that owning animals helps them make friends. The companion animal appears as a substitute for emotional support, a motivator and games.  Finally, within the family, the animal plays a wide variety of roles.  Addition to providing a vehicle for communication, the pet is a driving force of socialization and social integration.  The role of the animal in adolescents has been studied extensively, especially in rehabilitation centers.

Several experiments in adolescents in the Paris suburbs led to the following result:

- The animal facilitates maturation in psychomotor development in the adolescents. It channels and contains aggression, stabilizes, empowers, organizes time, connects with nature, reflects and enhances the image of its owner. It also helps the adolescent manage time.

- The animal restores or creates a family atmosphere and interprofessional relations.  It stimulates the relationship with parents, relieves tension and conflict, and is the bearer of messages.

- The animal can help to prevent withdrawal and depression. It gives a sense of purpose to something or someone; can avoid the fear of others, crowd and solitude. The pet can be loved while providing the family with companionship and company.

- Finally, the presence of pets in the prison system seems to undoubtedly improve the internal climate of these institutions, both on the side of the prisoners and the staff.

© Maryann Piccini 2012
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