Silhouette of a man and dog sat together with a sunset in the background

Why Dog Ownership is Good for Us

You’ll exercise more

Owning a dog can motivate you to exercise every day. On those days when the weather isn’t so great, looking at your dog standing by the door waiting to go for a walk can give you the push you need to get out there. Taking your dog for a 30 minute walk every day can greatly improve both of your health.

You’ll feel less stressed

There have been lots of studies that have shown how dogs decrease stress levels. Stroking your dog, playing with your dog and simply watching your dog can all reduce your stress. When we engage with our dogs, both species produce oxytocin, the love hormone, responsible for building bonded relationships. Research shows that dog ownership reduces stress hormones such as cortisol and the effects usually outweigh the stress caused by caring for a dog.

Your social life may improve

Not only does walking your dog help you to get exercise, it might also help you to make new friends. People are so much more likely to stop and talk to you when you’re with your dog. Going to the park, local beauty spots or even the shops can also lead to strangers striking up conversations with you about your dog. Who knows, you may even find love.

Your kids will be less likely to have allergies

Children who are raised around animals are less likely to have allergies. In fact, living in a home with a dog or cat can help kids grow up to have an increased immunity to pet allergies, asthma and eczema later in life. The New Scientist magazine states that the more pets you have and the closer the contact, the stronger the immune system.

Your heart will be healthier

Studies have shown that petting a dog lowers a person’s heart rate. Therefore, dog owners are more likely to have a healthy heart. In fact, some research has shown that dog owners are much more likely to survive a heart attack compared to non-dog owners. Male pet owners in particular tend to experience a reduced rate of heart disease.

You can grow old gracefully

Dog ownership benefits elderly people in many ways. Alzheimer’s patients have fewer outbursts when there is a dog in the home. Caregivers of elderly patients report less stress. Dogs offer wonderful companionship for the elderly.

Your risk for general illness decreases

Dog owners experience fewer health problems. Dog owners tend to have lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels compared to non-dog owners. Dogs expose their owners to a lot of germs, which can help build up an adult’s immunity to disease. As a result, dog owners get sick less often and less severely than non-dog owners.

You’ll feel safer

Dogs can be an effective home security system. Studies show that barking dogs deter burglars as they would rather their victims and their neighbours stayed asleep. Just knowing that you’ve got a dog who can use its keen sense of hearing to detect anyone prowling around can help increase your sense of security, you don’t need the dog to do anything else.

You’re less likely to feel depressed

Because you’ll be making new friends, exercising, having structure to your day, caring for something else and enjoying loyal companionship your mental health will be impacted for the better.
By Kirsten Dillon
Animal Behaviourist & Canine Specialist