Most children love dogs. They’re cute, cuddly, and friendly. But did you know that growing up with a dog can actually benefit a child’s physical and psychological development? Here are some of the benefits of dogs being in children’s lives.

Endless Companionship

While childhood isn’t always easy, having a pet provides constant companionship through the ups and downs. Dogs can be a great source of comfort for kids — even when they’re coming to grips with tough life lessons. Whenever kids feel sad, angry, or afraid, they can always turn to their pet. Petting and cuddling dogs has also been shown to relieve stress and help people relax.

A More Active Life

Caring for a dog also boosts a more active lifestyle. Kids with dogs exercise more than their non-dog owning peers. Many dogs require daily walks or runs and plenty of play time. Those adorable puppy eyes they give you are sure to motivate you even when you’re not feeling up to it.

Teaches Responsibility

Having a pet is a great way to teach responsibility to kids. Making sure that the family dog has food and water gives children a first glimpse of responsibility and obligation. Children also learn empathy and compassion by caring for their pet, while developing a higher level of self-esteem by taking care of their pet-owning responsibilities.

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of dogs in early childhood is simply that they make children happy! Interaction with animals has been proven to raise levels of serotonin and dopamine, which are the chemical building blocks of positive feelings. All science aside, playing and interacting with dogs is just plain fun and it’s bound to brighten any kid’s day. Growing up with a dog can improve the lives of children in so many ways. Having a dog join your family may be one of the greatest gifts you can give our children.