A study of 3- to 6-year-olds found that kids with pets had more empathy towards other animals and human beings. A separate study found that even just having an animal in a classroom made kids in fourth grade more compassionate.
Slideshow: The Best Dog Breeds for Children
Pets in the house help teach a child at an early age how to care for others. Later, once kids have learned the basics, their memory and understanding of a life outside themselves will be stimulated each time they interact with the animals, according to an overview of scientific literature.
But what kind of dog do you choose when your main goal is for him or her to be your child’s best friend? What size should it be? Small dogs can actually be a bad choice because kids can mistake them for toys. Big dogs may not be a good idea because they are not always gentle.
It’s also important to find a dog, regardless of breed, that is energetic. It has to match your child’s activity level. But too much energy can result in misbehavior and impatience, none of which are preferable traits when dealing with kids.