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The Health and Social Benefits of Having A Dog

by Chris

Introduction

Dogs are pretty great. They bring us so much joy. You can come in from work after a long day, and see those big eyes staring up at you and that little tail wagging, and you will just melt.

Knowing that you have a furry companion just waiting for you at home is enough to make anyone happy!

Owners introducing dogs to one another

Having a dog actually comes with a bunch of different benefits both for your health and your social life, however. Some of the benefits are things that you may never have even heard of before.

Whatever the case, your four legged friend is there not only to improve your mental health, but also your physical health.

With that in mind, here’s everything that you need to know about the health and social benefits of having a dog.

Table of Contents

 

The Health Benefits of Having A Dog

The Health Benefits of Having A Dog
Reduces Anxiety

Did you know that it’s actually possible to get a service dog for anxiety? Dogs are a massive asset for people that struggle with anxiety.

They can even anticipate when you’re having an anxiety attack and can help you to deal with it. Many of these dogs go through over 600 hours worth of training to help people who are suffering from severe anxiety

Of course, your pampered pooch may not be a service dog, but they can still be very effective with helping you to deal with anxiety.

Dogs are often used for therapeutic purposes since they can be so soothing to have around.

There are even studies that have shown people who are feeling stressed report feeling less stressed after spending time with a dog.

In addition to that, people had reduced blood pressure and heart rates after they spent time with their pets.

They aren’t just good for adults either, since children can also feel less stressed after spending time with a dog. If your child struggles with anxiety, then it’s definitely worthwhile to try and get a dog for them.

So why do dogs help with anxiety and stress? For starters, because they give unconditional love and a lot of attention to us!

When we stroke a dog or a cat, our body releases a chemical known as oxytocin – this same chemical is often released by mothers after giving birth to their children, which is why it’s sometimes nicknamed the love hormone.

The hormone is also released when you hug someone that you love. As you can see, you can create deep connections with a dog, and this can do wonders for getting people out of their anxious state of mind.

As we’ll explore later on, they also encourage people to get more exercise, and exercise can release endorphins and dopamine.

These are more chemicals that your brain releases that can help you to feel happier. Exercise is good for your mental health, and walking your dog is just one way to get more exercise.

Likewise, dogs can give you structure and a routine since they have body clocks that need to be obeyed. You need to walk and feed your dog on a regular schedule, after all.

Basically, if you struggle with your anxiety or mental health in general, getting a dog is a great idea to help you to feel at least a little better.

If you are struggling though, it’s also a good idea to speak with a mental health professional who can guide you through any concerns that you may have.

Encourage Exercise

First of all, it’s worth noting how much exercise a dog actually needs. In most cases puppies tend to have a lot more energy so may need a little more exercise in most cases.

You’ll probably already notice this when your dog sprints laps around your lounge! As a dog reaches adulthood, the amount of exercise that he needs varies based on things like breed and temperament.

Some dog breeds need a lot more exercise than others – for instance, you’ll need to walk a labrador far more often than you will need to walk a toy poodle.

In most cases though, dogs will need anywhere from 30 minutes and two hours of physical activity every day.

You will need to pay attention to your particular dog though in order to gauge the level of activity that they need.

So how does this impact you? Well, a dog can often entertain itself using toys and other items to keep themselves active.

With that being said, they may struggle to get the amount of activity that they need without your assistance. It’s really important that you give your dog enough exercise so that they can stay healthy.

As such, dogs can be a fantastic motivational tool for helping you to stay active. You know that your dog is relying on you for exercise in order to stay healthy, so you can’t skip that daily walk anymore!

Some studies have even found that sometimes, dog owners can actually be healthier than non dog owners thanks to the necessary increase in exercise.

Exercise is also incredibly good for you. Walking your dog can bring benefits like making you feel happier, it can lower blood pressure, and it can also make you have a stronger relationship with your pet.

You may think that taking your dog for a leisurely walk is the only way that you can both get exercise, but this is not actually true. There are a variety of different activities that you can enjoy with your dog.

For instance, you can take them hiking with you. You can explore new places. Put them in the car and enjoy a nice day out in a national park or in the mountains.

You can also take them cycling with you, given that they are well trained. This won’t work for all dogs of course, so it’s important to keep that in mind.

It’s better to take them on bike trails if you can, rather than taking them on main roads. This is much safer for your dog.

In addition to that, you can take them skating with you if you enjoy using a skateboard!

Other activities dogs can do include swimming. Swimming is a good option if your dog’s bones aren’t what they once were and they are struggling to get active.

Give them a life jacket and they can enjoy swimming for quite some time, which is a lot of fun for them. You can also do standard dog activities with them, like fetch, obedience training and various kinds of dog sports.

Exercise also has an added benefit for both you and your dog, since dogs that are well exercised are usually dogs that behave better and display fewer destructive behaviors.

This is pretty important if you’re trying to save the life of your beloved armchair!

Help You Lose Weight

Have you been trying to lose weight for a while but haven’t had much luck? Well, it may be worth looking for a four legged friend to be your cheerleader.

You may not know this, but your dog can be a powerful asset to helping you to lose weight.

Weight loss

There are a number of reasons for this. First is what we have previously mentioned – dogs are great at encouraging you to exercise.

It’s a lot of fun to take your dog for a walk, allowing you to bond with your dog while soaking in the fresh air.

When you’re exercising with a dog, it may not even feel like you’re exercising since you’re both having such a good time!

It’s not just about the deliberate exercise either. Dogs also help us to move in ways we may not realize, such as when we’re chasing them around the yard or playing fetch with them.

Exercise is a vital component of a good weight loss regime. Why is this? Well, if you want to lose weight then you need to be eating fewer calories than you are burning.

That’s where exercise comes in. When you exercise you are burning calories, and this can help you to lose weight.

If you combine your new exercise regime with your pooch alongside a new, balanced diet, you are sure to see weight loss results in barely any time at all.

Provides Companionship

You’ve probably heard someone say before that a dog is ‘man’s best friend.’

Well, that’s certainly true! Dogs are a fantastic source of companionship, and are especially good for people that may be feeling lonely and want another creature to spend their life with.

If you’re looking for the ideal life companion, you really can’t go wrong with a dog. Dogs just want to love you and want you to love them in return.

You’ll notice that when you pay attention to them, they may bring you their toys.

This is not only because they want to play but also because they love their toys, so they think that you will too! They want to please you, no matter what.

You may also notice that when you have a dog, they can sense your mood. If you are upset or feeling in a negative mood, your dog may try to come over to you and do things to cheer you up.

They may just sit there attentively with their head on your lap, or they may try to give you a big ol’ kiss to tell you that everything will be okay.

Your dog may not be able to give you any advice, but they are fantastic listeners that just want to see you happy.

Not only that, but have you ever seen any other creature in your life that would pee because they were so happy to see you?

A creature that would bound up to you with such enthusiasm when you come home from a day away from them. They miss you when you’re gone – to them, you are their entire world.

Dogs are loyal creatures too. If they bond with you, they will bond with you for life. They will provide you with protection and love that is truly unmatched by anything else in the world.

It doesn’t matter who you are or what your history is, your dog will love you all the same. That is truly worth its weight in gold.

Help You Meet New People

Dogs aren’t just good for companionship – they’re also a ticket into making new relationships. If you think that you need to get out of the house a little more and socialize, then getting a dog may be the perfect thing for you.

As we’ve already established, dogs are a very sociable breed. When you take your dog on a walk, they’ll likely want to interact with pretty much every other dog that they meet.

They’ll be sniffing butts and playing until the cows come home if you let them do so. You may even be envious sometimes, wondering how you can make connections like that.

It’s not like it’s socially acceptable for you to sniff someone’s rear on a jaunt out of the house, after all!

As it turns out though, your dog may actually be able to help you to meet more people after all. There are actually a number of different ways that you can meet new people with your dog.

There are even ways if your dog isn’t super friendly.

The most obvious way that you can meet new people with your dog is by taking them out on a walk. When you’re walking your dog, it’s incredibly likely that you will also see other dog owners on your travels.

You may even see the same people if you walk at similar times each day, since people with dogs often like to have a routine.

Other owners may stop to talk to you as your dogs interact, and you may even make a lifelong friend in the process!

You’re especially likely to meet people if you have a puppy, since puppies attract attention everywhere they go!

You’re sure to find at least one person that wants to give your jumpy little furball a good pat and maybe even some treats!

You will also meet other dog owners, technicians and more when you visit the vets office. Nobody likes visiting the vet, but you can certainly connect with other people when you visit the vet to give your pooch his yearly vaccinations or worming treatments.

If you want to take your dog to a training class, then you are also likely to see a lot of other dog owners there at the same time for the same reason. You will find other dog owners that may want to speak to you, especially if you have a similar breed to them.  It’s certainly great to meet like minded people when you’re getting your dog to learn!

Basically, dogs are a really great way to meet other people. People also tend to get really passionate about their dog’s breed.

For instance, you are likely to find a whole bunch of border collie fan groups online on forums and on social media. Why not join one of them and connect with other people who also have border collies?

The same can be said for pretty much any other dog that you can think of. People that are passionate about their pets tend to get along well together!

Improve Heart Health

You may not be aware of this, but studies have shown that dogs can actually help to improve heart health. This is partially thanks to what we mentioned earlier – dogs need a lot of exercise.

Heart health

Since you need to take your dog for regular walks, you are also getting plenty of cardiovascular activity. As you can probably guess, cardiovascular training is good for your heart since it gets it pumping and it gets your circulation moving.

It has also been found that when people struggle from heart attacks, they have a much better chance of survival after the fact if they have a dog.

In addition to this, owning a dog can also help to lower your blood pressure, decrease the triglyceride levels in your body and can reduce cholesterol.

This reduces your chance of having heart attacks in the future too. Pretty cool, right? Basically, let a dog fill your heart and your heart will thank you for it.

Provide A Routine For Your Day

Both humans and animals can benefit from having a routine. They help to keep us more grounded, and can often improve our general wellbeing.

Well, it’s actually essential for a dog to have some kind of a routine. Dogs can become anxious when they are met with uncertainty. If they have no idea what time their next meal is coming, it may freak them out. They like to know what’s happening and when, as it helps them to keep their body clocks in check.

There are a number of benefits of having a routine for a dog. For starters, if you are housetraining your dog then you should never underestimate the benefits of a routine.

If your dog has a consistent schedule then it will help them to understand when they are going to be able to empty their bladder. If your dog has that routine then they won’t be as likely to have an accident because they know what’s going to happen.

In addition to that, giving your dog a consistent schedule can help to ensure that they don’t gain too much weight.

This is important for their wellbeing as you can help to avoid obesity and heart problems in the future. Having a feeding routine in place means that they are less likely to overeat.

Okay, so we’ve established why having a routine is important for your dog, but what about you? Well, if your dog is going to have a routine, then it also means that you have to have one.

You will have to go to the effort of walking them and feeding them at specific times of the day. Your day will need to be structured around this.

This is actually a good thing. Having a routine is really good for people, as it will help you to develop healthy habits and it can help you to manage stress a lot better.

Having a routine can impact all things from your sleep schedule to your digestion. It may help you to focus more easily through the day, and it will likely help you to be more productive.

This is good for both your physical and mental wellbeing. Human beings thrive on habit and routine, so having a dog to help you to stay on track can also be beneficial.

Help Recover From Personal Trauma

As we mentioned earlier, emotional support dogs can sometimes be used to help someone to manage things like anxiety. They can also be useful for helping people to recover from personal trauma. There are a few reasons for this.

For starters, dogs can be an anchor to the present moment. Your mind focuses on the senses of touching a dog, and that can help you to stay grounded. This is especially useful if you are in the midst of a panic attack.

In addition to this, an animal is an asset for helping you to socialize again.

When you have dealt with personal trauma you may be more likely to isolate yourself from others, while dogs can encourage you to get out there around other people again.

They can also help you as a distraction, since having an idle mind may be more likely to breed uncomfortable thoughts.

It comes down to a chemical connection too. As we said earlier, interacting with dogs releases oxytocin, and this can make you feel happier.

Having a dog isn’t going to automatically heal all of your wounds, but it can certainly aid you on the path to recovery. It’s part of the reason why animal therapy is so popular.

Reduced Asthma and Allergies For Kids

It was once believed that if you had a dog or another animal, children would be more likely to develop allergies. In reality though this is most certainly not the case.

In fact, if children are exposed to dogs then it makes them significantly less likely to get allergies in the future. Owning a dog may make children less likely to have asthma and eczema.

Of course, it’s always a good idea to check how your dog responds to the dog.

If the dog is struggling with their health around a dog, then it may be the case that the animal is triggering their asthma or allergies.

In most cases though the exposure from a young age will make them less likely to have allergies or asthma.

Having A Dog Teaches Valuable Skills

Your dog will learn a lot from you through things like training, but did you know that your dog can also teach you and your family a whole bunch of valuable skills and lessons too?

For starters, dogs can teach you effective communication. If you want your dog to listen to you then you need to learn how to communicate to them in a way that they can respond to and understand.

This sort of skill can bleed into your everyday life – it helps you to understand that not all creatures and people interpret things the same way that you do.

In addition to this, having a dog can teach you patience. Patience is a skill that many of us lack today in a society where we are granted instant gratification at every turn.

Your dog isn’t always going to obey you straight away, and sometimes it may take a few attempts at doing something before your dog even understands.

Having patience is a useful skill to have, both when training a dog and in other aspects of life.

These are just two of the skills that your dog can teach you, but there are certainly many more. Your dog is a valuable asset in your personal development, and that’s something that you can’t put a price on.

Making The Most Out of Having A Dog

Life is what you make it, and so is having a dog! For that reason, it’s a good idea to do everything that you can to make the most out of having your furry friend around and by your side.

Here are a few things that you can do to make the most out of having your dog.

Take Them on Plenty of Walks

As we’ve established many times in this article, exercise is good both for you and your dog.

For that reason, it’s a good idea to make sure that you take them out on plenty of walks and give them enough exercise. You are sure to see the benefit.

Your dog will love you for it, and it’s certainly something that you won’t forget. Maybe take some time to take them on a long hike once a week when you have a little bit of time on your hands.

You can also take them to the dog park and work on things like their recall with them.

Every day is an adventure for a dog, especially when it comes to walk time – why not embrace that and view your walks together in the same way?

Stop and Smell the Roses

You’ve probably noticed before that when you take your dog for walks, they just want to sniff everything around them.

Sometimes they may want to just stop dead in their tracks to take in everything around them. That’s something that you can benefit from too!

Take a moment just to enjoy the fresh air and to see what’s going on around you. Let your dog smell whatever they’re smelling rather than dragging them away.

Enjoy what life has to offer – your dog certainly will.

Make Time for Play Time

There’s nothing like spending a little bit of time with your dog. Take around half an hour every day, grab a dog toy and take some time to play with your furry friend.

The bonding session is something that you will both value, since it will make you both happy. There’s nothing quite like an experience shared to lead to a feeling of shared love.

Give Back That Unconditional Love

Unfortunately, dogs aren’t around for nearly as long as they should be. Yet, in that time, your dog will give you every ounce of their devotion if you allow them to do so.

Why not pay the same kindness back to them? Show your dog how much you love them by patting them, playing with them, giving them yummy treats and generally looking out for their wellbeing.

You are your dog’s entire world, so sharing that love is so valuable. Take a moment just to enjoy your dog’s company – it’s pretty special.

Summary

Dogs are a real asset to humans. They aren’t just a furry creature that sits in the corner of your home – they’re a loyal companion.

They will give you so much during their life, including a bunch of health benefits. Your dog is good for your mental health and your physical health alike, in ways you may never have even thought of before.

Woman petting her dog

So, take this moment to appreciate your dog. Give them a nice treat and a pat on the back, because they bring you so much.

The joy that you can get from owning a dog is something that we wouldn’t trade for the world, so give them a moment of love for everything they do for your health!

My name is Chris and I am the co-creator of Oodle Life. My wife and I love playing with our active miniature Labradoodle Max. We want all Oodle puppies to be healthy and happy, have lots of fun and be part of the family.