Do you have a dog obsession? That puppy you adopted isn’t just a cute, fluffy companion. Dogs actually make you happier and healthier – here are 8 reasons why.
1. Dogs are a source of healthy bacteria
You share your microbiome with everyone you live with – including your pets. Scientists from the University of San Francisco found that children who lived with dogs in infancy have a lower risk of asthma and allergies. Dogs contribute a source of healthy bacteria that can help strengthen your immune system.
2. Dogs help you recover from psychological setbacks
Dogs have been shown to reduce stress in soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder. They don’t question whether they’ll be there in a moment of crisis. An army vet named Robert Soliz found that his program “Paws for Purple Hearts” helped him overcome PTSD and have a quality of life similar to what he had before leaving for Baghdad. After six weeks with his new golden retriever, he could hug his kids again.
Why are they so good at this? For one thing, dogs are extremely vigilant. That dog will never leave your side. You don’t have to fear waking up in the middle of the night because your dog will be on watch for you. He’s there to protect you, to watch your back. Additionally, dogs do well responding to authority. Military personnel may often have a hard time functioning in normal relationships as civilians — they’re used to giving and taking orders. Dogs, on the other hand, love receiving orders.
3. Petting your dog is very relaxing
Have you ever noticed how calm you feel after a nice evening just petting your dog? Petting your dog reduces stress levels and blood pressure. Because dogs love to be stroked, petted and scratched behind the ears, they are great companions who can reduce stress and loneliness.
4. Walking your dog forces you to exercise
Most dogs will want to walk regularly. Dog treadmills may work for a while, but eventually your dog will still want you to take it out for a walk, forcing you to get some exercise as well. Even if you are not normally active, walking your dog can give you positive health benefits. A 2006 study showed that dog owners were typically more physically active than non-dog owners and walked an average of 300 minutes per week.
5. Dogs are the best listeners
If you feel stressed and need someone to just listen, to vent to, your pet will be all ears. You don’t need to schedule a meeting with them. They’re just right there, all the time. And then the next thing you know, they’ll be tail wagging and nose-nudging, eager for you to give them some attention. And you’ll feel better, too. What’s more – your dog will never judge you, no matter what you tell him. He’ll just listen. And you won’t need to change the way you behave to get him to accept you.
6. Looking at your dog brings out the natural protector in you
The Austrian zoologist Konrad Lorenz showed that dog’s faces possess “infant schemas” – the high forehead, big eyes and floppy ears that evolved to cue humans into their caregiver responses. It’s just like looking at a baby – we feel an innate need to protect and nurture when interacting with dogs.
7. Dogs slow us down and make us appreciate life’s little moments
Dogs don’t text, email, or call people. They aren’t on social media, and they do not use smart phones. When interacting with your dog, you naturally put away the technology. What’s better than going for a relaxing walk in the park with your dog and freeing your mind from the stress and complexity of life?
8. Dogs cure loneliness
Many people, including the elderly, feel very lonely. People living in cities and isolated areas often feel lonely as well, and may be diagnosed with clinical depression. Owning a dog reduces this diagnosis four times over. A study done on elderly people showed that pet owners made fewer medical visits over a period of one year.
People are also typically more likely to talk to you when you’re walking the cute pomeranian on a leash. You have no choice but to interact with others because you have to walk that dog in public.