This is a question we at Mosaic love to answer! Whilst it can depend on the breed of dog, we know from years of experience the positive effect dogs can have on children's lives. Many of our foster parents own dogs, large and small!
The ability of dogs to form unconditional, loving and trusting relationships with humans is well known, as is their ability to become working dogs. From rounding up sheep to detecting cancer (yes this is a real thing!), they can also be beneficial for children who have experienced trauma.
That is a bold claim but exactly how does a dog (or another pet animal) help? It all comes down to a happiness chemical called oxytocin. Humans release oxytocin when they are in romantic love and it is also present in mother/baby bonding. Mothers who gaze at their babies have higher levels of oxytocin.
What is most interesting is that dogs also release oxytocin when they look longingly at their family members (usually hoping for a treat!). What has also been studied is that whilst the dog looks longingly at you, oxytocin is also released in the recipient - actually making you feel happier and more content! The Bark carried out research into whether foster families who welcome young people who have experienced trauma had any effects from being around pets. They found that where a child may initially be sceptical of adults due to past trauma, they may not be as sceptical of dogs and other pets.
Now, this doesn't mean that to foster you MUST have a pet (sorry if you were hoping this article would give you a good excuse to win your significant other over!) but it does mean that if you have one, it is not likely to affect your foster child other than in a positive way and it certainly won't stop you from fostering with us! At our home visit, our recruitment advisor may ask you about your fur buddy to make sure they are safe for children to be around.
At Mosaic, we take every step to ensure that you are meticulously matched with the right young person for your family, meaning that we are behind you every step of the way to make those lasting connections and help rebuild the trust our young people need. Want to learn more about how we support you? At Mosaic, you will meet the child who will be joining your family before they come to live with you. This means that you will be able to introduce your furbaby to your young person in advance of them coming to stay. We will make sure that there are tails-a-wagging and big smiles all around!
So whether your dog is large or small we are confident that for most children the effect of developing a relationship with a dog has many benefits. Children often confide in their pets, knowing they will always listen, not give advice and always be there for them!
We know that choosing to foster comes with a whole host of questions which you may be looking for the answers to. At Mosaic, we want to make sure that you make the right decisions for yourself and your family. Why not pop along to our FAQs to see more of our commonly asked questions and answers?
Think you could make a difference in the life of a young person who has experienced trauma? Why not connect with us today?