We all know dogs are man’s best friend, but did you know that dogs help humans and have a profound impact on our lives? From reducing stress to providing companionship, dogs can make a real difference in our day-to-day lives. Here are just a few of the ways dogs can improve our lives.
10 Ways Dogs Improve Our Lives
1. Dogs Reduce Stress
Owning a dog has been shown to reduce stress in multiple studies. One study found that dog ownership increased levels of oxytocin, which is sometimes called the “cuddle hormone” because it plays a role in bonding and social interactions. Oxytocin has also been shown to lower blood pressure and cortisol levels, both of which can be increased by stress.
Another study found that people who walked with a dog had lower levels of stress than those who walked without one, even when the dog-walkers didn’t know each other. The study participants who walked with dogs also had more positive interactions with other people than those who didn’t have furry companions. So not only do dogs reduce stress in their owners, but they can also help create social bonds that lead to even more stress reduction!
2. Dogs Keep Us Active
Another way dogs help humans is by keeping us active. Studies have shown that dog owners are more likely to meet their recommended daily levels of physical activity than those who don’t own dogs. This is because walking or running with a dog provides a built-in motivation to stay active—after all, you need to exercise your dog too! If you’re not currently getting enough exercise, adopting a dog could be a great way to get yourself moving.
3. Dogs Provide Companionship
For many people, their dog is their best friend. Dogs offer us companionship that can be beneficial in a number of ways. One study found that dog owners were more likely to meet recommended guidelines for physical activity than those who didn’t own dogs. Walking or running with a dog provides built-in motivation to get outside and get moving! Additionally, dog ownership has been linked to increased socialization and decreased loneliness. So if you’re looking for a way to feel less isolated, owning a dog may be the perfect solution.
4. Dogs Teach Responsibility
Caring for a dog requires time, effort, and responsibility. Feeding them, walking them, and making sure they have everything they need is all part of being a good pet owner. Caring for a dog can teach us important life skills like responsibility and empathy, which can be valuable both in our personal and professional lives.
5. Dogs Give Unconditional Love
Above all else, dogs are known for their unconditional love. No matter what we do or how we feel, they’re always there for us with a wagging tail and a warm smile. Their love is pure and true, and it’s one of the many things that make them such special creatures. If you’re looking for someone to love you unconditionally, look no further than your furry friend waiting at home for you right now.
6. Dogs Can Help Prevent Depression
Dogs can also be beneficial for mental health, particularly for preventing depression. In one study, dog owners were significantly less likely to be diagnosed with depression than those who didn’t own dogs. Another study found that interacting with therapy dogs just once per week for six weeks led to significant reductions in self-reported depression symptoms, compared to people who didn’t interact with therapy dogs at all.
7. Dogs Helping People with Disabilities
Dogs can also be trained to perform specific tasks to help people with disabilities. For example, guide dogs help blind or visually impaired people navigate their surroundings safely. Hearing dogs are trained to alert their deaf or hearing-impaired owners when someone is trying to get their attention. Service dogs can also be trained to assist people with mobility issues, autism, seizures, and other conditions.
8. Dogs Help Us to Meet New People
Dogs can also help us meet new people! Walking your dog means you’ll likely run into other dog owners in your neighborhood or at the park. This provides you with an opportunity to strike up a conversation and make new friends. According to a study conducted by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, dog owners are more likely to be perceived as friendly and approachable than those without dogs. So owning a dog could help you meet new people and make new friends!
9. How Assistance Dogs Help humans
Assistance dogs are specifically trained to perform certain tasks that their disabled handlers cannot do for themselves. These tasks can include everything from picking up dropped items to opening doors to providing balance and stability when walking. In other words, assistance dogs are true lifesavers!
10. Therapy Dogs Provide Comfort and Healing
While assistance dogs are specifically trained to perform certain tasks, therapy dogs are not. Instead, therapy dogs provide comfort and emotional support through petting, licking, and snuggling. They often visit hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and even prisons! Research has shown that spending time with a therapy dog can lower blood pressure and anxiety levels, ease pain, and boost morale.
The Various Benefits That Humans Gain From Dogs
It is a common misconception that dogs are only kept as pets for companionship. Although the companionship of a furry friend is unquestionably a benefit that comes with owning a dog, it is certainly not the only one. In fact, there are several science-backed benefits that humans gain from dogs, ranging from physical to mental health benefits.
Physical Health Benefits
One of the most well-known benefits of owning a dog is increased physical activity. According to the CDC, dog owners are more likely to meet recommended levels of physical activity than non-dog owners. In addition, studies have shown that dog owners have lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, as well as longer lifespans on average, compared to those who do not own dogs.
Furthermore, research has shown that walking with a dog can provide greater health benefits than walking without one. This is likely due to the fact that dogs provide motivation to stay active, as well as a sense of community and social support. Walking with a dog has also been shown to improve mental health by reducing stress levels and increasing feelings of happiness and well-being.
Mental Health Benefits
In addition to the countless physical health benefits that come with owning a dog, there are also several mental health benefits. For example, dogs help humans reduce stress and anxiety levels, as well as improve moods and overall mental health. In addition, dogs can provide a sense of structure and routine in one’s life, which is especially beneficial for those suffering from mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety.
Dogs have also been shown to be beneficial for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). A study conducted by the Autism Society found that 76% of parents reported an decrease in their child’s ASD symptoms after getting a dog. The study also found that 66% of parents reported an increase in their child’s social interactions after getting a dog.
Immune System Benefits
One study found that dog ownership was linked with a reduced risk of developing allergies and asthma in childhood. That’s likely because exposure to microbes early in life helps train the immune system. Not to mention, as we mentioned above, walking your dog also exposes you to fresh air and sunshine, which have both been linked with boosting immune function.
How You Can Help Your Dog
We already learned that dogs help humans, so it’s only fair that we return the favor! Here are a few easy ways you can show your dog some love:
- Take them on regular walks or runs to keep them healthy and fit.
- Give them plenty of toys and playtime so they stay mentally stimulated.
- Keep up with their dental care by brushing their teeth regularly.
- Make sure they see the vet regularly for checkups and vaccinations.
- Provide them with a comfortable place to sleep inside your home.
By providing your dog with food, exercise, love, and veterinary care, you can help them live a long and happy life by your side.
Dogs really are man’s best friend—there’s no denying it! They provide us with companionship, reduce stress levels, promote physical activity, teach responsibility…and most importantly, they give us unconditional love.
So next time you’re feeling down or stressed out, spend some quality time with your furry friend.
It might surprise you just how much better you’ll feel afterwards.