There are many benefits to pet ownership, and most dog owners can attest to the ways their canine companion has changed their lives for the better. From encouraging a more active lifestyle to nighttime snuggles, having a dog can make for a happy, healthier you.
More Active Lifestyle
Just like humans, dogs require an active lifestyle to feel and look their best. Most pups are not content to sit at home all day, so when you get a dog, you’re committing to hours of playtime and twice-daily walks. No matter how you’re feeling on a given day, your dog is eagerly waiting to spend quality time with you in the yard or at the park.
Maybe you’ve thought about running a 10k, but you’re hesitant to train by yourself. When you have a dog, they’re ready and willing to be your running companion. Each run has the benefit of getting in your daily exercise as well as helping your pup to get out all their excess energy.
NOTE: If you’re looking to introduce your dog to running, use these three tips to get started safely:
- Assess Their Health: Not all dogs are built for running. If your dog struggles with long walks, they might not enjoy going on runs with you.
- Start Small: Don’t immediately launch into five-mile runs. Take your dog on a handful of short, fast runs to see how much they can handle.
- After the Run: Make sure your dog is getting enough water post-run, and that they’re able to cool down, just like you. If your dog is battling sore muscles post-run, check with your vet on how to handle them.
In cities that are dog friendly, many shops, restaurants and parks will allow owners to bring their canine companion along for their daily adventures. Being able to take dogs out and about often encourages dog owners to get out of the house since they have a built-in buddy when they take their dog with them.
There’s no silver bullet to treat depression or anxiety, but many sufferers feel that owning a dog can help brighten their mood. In fact, therapy and emotional support dogs are specifically trained to help their owners cope with their mental illnesses, improving their quality of life.
Studies have shown that people who have experienced trauma see vast improvements in mood and attitude when they interact with therapy dogs. Additionally, people with pets tend to report lower rates of depression and levels of stress, indicating that our furry friends are a major source of support.
Having a dog can benefit health for people of all ages, not just kids and younger adults. In a study of people over the age of 60, it was found that even the most highly stressed dog owners saw their doctors 21% less than study participants without dogs. In the study, dog owners also coped better with stressful events without having to enter the health care system.
Overall, regardless of age bracket or life circumstance, most dog owners find that having a dog significantly improves their mental state and helps them deal with life stress.
Healthy and Harmonious Families
Beyond individual benefits, dog ownership can also have an incredibly positive impact on families. In the same way that dogs can help adults live a more active lifestyle, they can also help children be more active. Additionally, daily walks with the family dog not only get children out of doors, but they also help kids develop a routine and establish responsibilities.
Studies have also shown that contact with a family dog helps kids become more nurturing, encouraging them to show empathy and enhance positive self-esteem. Children with a pet dog are also less likely to feel isolation or loneliness. Need another reason to consider getting a dog? 70% of families surveyed in the aforementioned study reported an increase in family happiness and fun after adopting a dog.
Ultimately, owning a dog has been shown to positively influence our health, happiness and family life. Our furry friends add love, companionship, fun and excitement to our daily lives. If you’re ready for the responsibilities of dog ownership, you’re also ready to enjoy the physical and emotional benefits.