From easing anxiety to encouraging exploration and socialization in children, this article explores all potential benefits of bringing a pet to your family vacation.
Pets are a beloved part of the family for everyone, children and adults alike – you’d sure want to take them on all your adventures, from sandy beaches to cozy camping trips. They’re great companions, and most pet owners want their pet to be part of their precious memories. But did you know that taking your pet with you offers far more benefits than just companionship for the younger members of your family?
Here, we take a look at some of the reasons why your child might benefit from having their furry friend on your trips.
Most children are used to a routine. They wake up, go to (pre)school and then play with their friends or do hobbies. This promotes a sense of safety and security, as they know what to expect from the world around them. Therefore, when you go away, a long journey to a new place can feel a little overwhelming. They may struggle to stick to a sleep schedule, or even become more clingy and need extra attention.
For children who are nervous about changing scenery, having their pet with them can make a big difference. Not only is it a familiar face, but they can self-soothe by talking to their animal friend and narrating their own experiences. Particularly fluffy pets may also provide a tactile distraction, as children can soothe themselves by stroking their fur.
Any pet, but particularly a dog, is a great reason to get out and about and explore your surroundings. Children will feel safe with their companion by their side, and may be more adventurous when it comes to leaving the house.
This can be particularly true for neurodiverse children, who may find it difficult to adapt to new environments. The reassurance of having a friendly face nearby and showing their pet their new surroundings can make it easier for them to focus on the exciting aspects, rather than ones that might cause them concern.
Making it easier to socialize
Making new friends can be a fun part of any holiday experience for children, but for introverts, it’s not as simple as walking up to someone in the playground. A pet is a lure for most children, and so if your child prefers people to come to them, having your pet on hand is the perfect opportunity.
Additionally, pets can be a good way to break the ice if your child is unsure what to talk about. In fact, research shows that pets stimulate conversation, and alleviate social anxiety in children. New children can stroke the pet and your child can stand next to them and do the same, and talk about what the pet’s name is, how old they are etc. Not only does this start the conversation off, but it also gives the opportunity to avoid direct eye contact, which some children find awkward.
Just make sure that you’re also supervising, and ask the other child to be gentle, to avoid any unwanted reactions from your pet – pre-school children can be particularly enthusiastic with their affection.
Bio: Elizabeth Long“”A life-long pet lover, I’m keen to explore the benefits that pets have on our mood and wellbeing. I write articles to help people make informed decisions about getting a pet, and am an advocate for responsible pet ownership.