Are you considering adding the patter of tiny paws to your family? Or perhaps looking to adopt an older dog but are still unsure? Well, we’re here to give you three fantastic reasons to get a dog!
Dogs not only have the ability to make us healthier and happier, but they also provide us with more opportunities for social interactions helping to prevent loneliness and boost our confidence.
Dog Owners have better Physical Health
Did you know that if you share your life with a dog, you are less likely to suffer from ill-health? Studies have found that dog owners have lower blood pressure, triglyceride, and cholesterol levels (indicators of heart disease) than their non-dog-owning counterparts. In addition, the British Journal of Health (2004) reported that dog owners have fewer heart attacks and fewer medical problems than those without dogs.
Dogs keep us active
Because owning a dog makes us exercise, dog owners are less likely to be obese. Walking on average an hour longer than non-dog owners, according to the Journal of Physical Activity and Health (2010)
Owning a dog is also good for your children. A 2011 study published by the Journal of Paediatrics found that kids who lived with a dog were less likely to develop eczema. In addition, kids who have canine companions tend to develop fewer allergies and take fewer sick days than those who live in a dog-free household.
If we do experience ill health, dogs make us recover faster. In a study of people who had experienced heart attacks, dog owners were over eight percent more likely to still be alive one year after suffering their heart attack than those who didn’t own a dog.
It’s well known that pets can help with a wide range of physical and mental health problems. Visits from dogs help with a reduction in pain, anxiety, depression, and research is ongoing in areas such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and cancer recovery.
Smokers are 28 percent more likely to give up if they own a pet—the effects of second-hand smoke on their pet’s health act as a solid motivator to quit.
Dogs improve our Mental Health
Studies show that dogs help make us happier. According to a study published in Society and Animals (although we all enjoy a funny cat video from time to time!), dog owners laugh more than either cat owners or people without pets.
Sharing your life with a dog can help reduce stress. Spending time with a dog can increase the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin. Both of these have been found to increase feelings of happiness. Stroking a dog also increases your levels of Oxytocin, commonly known as the ‘love hormone. It increases social bonding and makes us feel connected. The good news is that dogs get this feeling too, it’s a mutually rewarding experience.
Research shows that dogs can help reduce stress in Alzheimer’s patients and decrease their aggressive behavior. Not only that but a report by the Israel Institute of Technology supports the benefit of using dogs in therapy for people with challenging mental conditions such as schizophrenia.
Dogs make us feel less lonely and more connected
Dogs provide structure and routine to our day which both dogs and people benefit from. This can be particularly relevant as we get older and no longer have full-time employment.
Taking Care of a dog gives us a reason to get up in the morning which can help us focus on something other than ourselves. Dogs give us a sense of purpose and responsibility.
Not only that but dogs encourage us to play. Having fun and taking time playing is an essential but sometimes overlooked aspect of our lives. Play can help increase both our physical and mental health, as well as our dogs.
Owning a dog improves our social health
Studies have shown that having a dog can increase a child’s self-esteem. The British Medical Journal states that dogs act as social catalysts. A study by Warwick University found that forty percent of people who owned a dog found making friends much easier than without one.
Having a dog can make us feel less isolated. They can often help us connect with people in our neighborhood. Pet owners report that they have higher self-esteem and feel more purpose than their non-pet owning counterparts.
Dogs teach us responsibility. This is especially useful for children who learn that the needs of others are as important as their own. Dogs can help build confidence in children that have learning or literacy difficulties. Having a non-judgmental listener can boost confidence and develop social skills.
In a study published in the Journal of Applied Developmental Science, there was a direct correlation between young adults who had strong attachments to pets and how connected they felt in their relationships. The more attached to an animal they were as teenagers, the more confident and empathetic they were in their relationships.
Dogs are also being introduced into prisons with great effect. This has several benefits, on one hand, shelter dogs have a better chance of being re-homed with basic training. On the other, the inmates are learning important social skills and gaining confidence in their own ability to change.
Health, happiness, and confidence: 3 reasons to get a dog
If you aren’t convinced by our awesome reasons to get a dog, why not talk to friends that already share their life with a dog and get their experiences of sharing their life with a four-legged best friend.
Despite all the benefits of owning a dog, it’s a big commitment. Make sure that you are in a position to spend the next 10-15 years looking after your canine companion. Research your chosen breeds thoroughly and be honest about your lifestyle. Will, a dog, fit in, or will you have to make major sacrifices that may become problematic in the future?
If you are confident that you are ready to get a dog, then hoorah! Dogs are great companions, offer unconditional love and enrich our lives in so many ways benefitting our physical, mental, and social health.