Can pets at nursery be of benefit to children?

Can pets at nursery be of benefit to children?

At Keren’s Nursery, we embrace animal companions whenever possible.

We have two regular four-legged visitors; Buzz the Maltese-breed dog and Digby, a Norfolk Terrier. Both bring a whole host of benefits to the children at the nursery. They are both gentle and fearless, greeting everyone as a friend. They don’t shed hair, so they are ideal dogs for children with allergies. This makes them excellent therapy dogs as they love to be around children.


Studies show the benefit of having dogs around children. They can be especially helpful to children in making emotional connections. Children who struggle with relating to their peers or unfamiliar adults can often forge relationships with dogs. While not everyone can own a dog, it is a pleasure to see children enjoying quality time with such a loving companion at nursery.

Hound Lover’s Hot List

  • Dogs offer unconditional love
  • Dogs teach children empathy
  • Caring for a dog increases a child’s self-confidence and independence
  • Communicating with a dog improves social and verbal skills
  • Dogs help us relax, lower our blood pressure and keep us active

Educators have long known that bringing dogs into educational settings helps children learn. Mary Renck Jalongo, PhD author of The World of Children and Their Companion Animals identified this in 1984:

“The dogs in children’s lives often influence development across domains, promote children’s safety and well-being, support the goals of inclusion, and play a role in programs and interventions.”

The practicalities…

Buzz and Digby are introduced to the children at gathering times, where children start bonding with them in a gentle relaxed way. Some children are resistant to begin with. It’s fascinating to see how they slowly gain confidence and approach them eventually. Soon enough the children begin to ask their teachers when they will be visiting them again. It’s amazing to see the level of enjoyment and positive emotional impact on the children when they around.

It’s especially enthralling to see how the under two’s react and communicate with the visitors. They explore their fur, ears and tail, and begin to make eye contact with them and marvel at their reactions and excitement.

Buzz joins the children on outings, they take him on their visits to the local park, shops and on their Forest School sessions. They take turns in holding his lead and watching his behaviour as they walk. The children are also involved in training him, often gives him instruction and treats.

It’s not just dogs that have a positive impact on children. At our most recent farm animal visit, the children’s excitement, awe and calm was palpable in the presence of different kinds of animals, such as rabbits, hedgehogs, tortoises and even an owl.


Bringing dogs to our nursery environment has enriched the children’s development and understanding of the world. Based on all the above and growing animals in her home, I highly recommend, where possible, pets at home. When it comes to caring for a pet, our children gain all sorts of skills; empathy, responsibility, and exercise to name a few.


Keren x

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