There are a lot more benefits to having a Dog than you might think.
1. You’ll be more active, healthier and exercise more - in a fun way
Walking your Dog help you lose or maintain weight, reduces blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and leads to reduced stress. Studies show that people with a dog had lower blood pressure levels than those who did not.
Apart from the exercise benefits for you and you dog, walking (and socialising!) your dog is very important for your dog’s well-being and behaviour with other dogs and people.
2. Need a pickup? Try some Oxytocin!
Not having a great day? It happens to the best of us. Pets, especially dogs, help lift our mood and make us feel less lonely.
A study in the journal Science found that oxytocin is boosted in both dog and human when a dog owner stares into the dog’s eyes. Oxytocin is one of our body's feel-good chemicals, which also plays an important role in social bonding.
3. Health benefits for children
Children in households with dogs are less likely to have allergies. Research shows that living in a home with a dog can result in increased immunity to pet allergies later in life. A study in Science Daily found that children who grow up with dogs in the home have fewer allergies and are less likely to have eczema.
4. It’s not just about allergies. Dogs are good for children in lots of other ways
Children with dogs tend to be more empathetic, more popular with their peers, and have healthy self-esteem, all of which positively impact their emotional and social development.
A recently published study by the University of Cambridge adds to increasing evidence that household pets may have a major influence on child development, and could have a positive impact on children’s social skills and emotional well-being.
5. Social Capital
Dogs are social beings and great ice-breakers, and this rubs off on their humans. People are more likely to stop and talk with other dog lovers when walking a dog. This can help people make friendships, connect socially with neighbours, make them feel more social and less isolated, and improve psychological well-being and self-esteem.
A recent study by The WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition found that:
"Pet owners report stronger neighbourhood social connections than non-pet owners ....were consistently more likely to report social benefits such as helpfulness, friendliness and trust between neighbours. This research adds strength to claims that pet ownership is a valuable and positive feature in community and neighbourhood life."
Adding to this was "the role of dog walking as a way of greater neighbourhood surveillance and increased perceptions of safety within a community".
6. Dog walking groups
This is a growing trend where dog lovers meet on a regular basis. These can be on an informal basis with friends and neighbours, while some are more structured and take in organised walks, occasionally involving a small fee or charge.
This trend can lead to sharing the dog walking / dog sitting as needs arise due to work commitments, travel plans etc., and can also include dog-walking for elderly or infirm neighbours.
7. Positive Mental Health benefits of having a dog
People with Dogs are less likely to be depressed.
Dog lovers who have been diagnosed with clinical depression are likely to be less depressed than people in similar situations without a dog. Caring for a dog has been found to help relieve symptoms of depression while encouraging people to be more positive.
8. Dog-friendly workplaces
This has been found to apply in the workplace also: there are a number of studies showing that dog-friendly workplaces lead to reduced stress, increased productivity, less absenteeism, and improved relationships with co-workers / team-building.
Talent Recruitment & Retention
Employers also gain a competitive advantage in recruiting and retaining top talent as a pet-friendly policy is increasingly a factor for millennials.
Like to make the case to your boss for adopting a pet-friendly workplace policy? Check our blog on the many benefits of pet-friendly workplaces, including for Employers!
8. Companionship at every stage of life
Pets positively impact feelings of loneliness and isolation and provide companionship across all generations.
9. Safety & Security
Many people, especially those living on their own, the elderly etc., find great comfort in the physical presence of a dog. Police authorities recognise dogs as one of the most effective deterrents for would-be burglars.
10. Three Ways Pups Can Improve Seniors Health
Having a dog is a big positive for the elderly as well.
For older adults, owning a dog increases the likelihood of achieving World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended levels of physical activity according to a recent study conducted by the University of Lincoln and Glasgow Caledonian University in collaboration with Mars Petcare and Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition.
Physical activity is known to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, multiple cancers and depression. This research adds evidence to show that owning a pet dog can help support health as people age.
“Dog owners (study participants were all aged 65 years+) were found to walk over 20 minutes more a day and this additional walking was at a moderate pace” says Dr Philippa Dall, lead researcher. “For good health WHO recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity a week. Over the course of a week this additional 20 minutes walking each day may in itself be sufficient to meet these guidelines." This equated to approximately 2,760 additional steps per day.
11. Dogs as stress-busters for exam students
Dogs are increasingly being used by many third level institutions in the USA, UK and Ireland, to help students deal with stress at exams.
The use of dogs to help patients in recovery, visit the elderly etc., has also become widespread due to the clear therapeutic benefits especially among those with dementia / Alzheimer’s.
Animal assisted therapy - dogs visiting hospitals to help patients in recovery and sick children better cope with health issues, is being increasingly advocated by healthcare professionals.
A recent article by Health Correspondent Katie Forster in The Independent says that the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) in the UK is advocating for Dogs and other animals to be allowed into hospitals to help patients recover, and that Southampton Hospital has offered animal therapy for five years, where qualified handler Lyndsey Uglow and golden retriever Leo visit patients three days a week.
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12. Dogs are for life. Not just for Christmas!!
A dog is a long term commitment. Choosing a companion that will suit your lifestyle is really important to ensure you can commit to the time and level of care and attention that the dog needs on an everyday basis for the rest of his/her life.
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Is your dog getting enough exercise?
Check out this guide from Wiley Pup on the importance of (the right type and level of) exercise for dogs:
Daily Dog Exercise Needs | Plus 13 Outdoor & Indoor Exercise Ideas that Will Transform Your Dog