Dogs Make People Happy
October is Adopt-a-Dog month. There are many reasons why our shelters are filled with homeless pets. Some are rescued from puppy mills, some are given up by owners who are no longer able to care for them, and some are found homeless. You can help by adopting your next pet from your local shelter or rescue group. There are many benefits of owning a dog.
- Increase in Amount of Exercise – It is hard to say no to those big pleading eyes begging you for a walk. Studies have shown that dog owners get more exercise than non-dog owners. Dogs make wonderful workout partners. The enthusiasm they have is contagious and they never offer excuses to postpone a workout until another day.
- Physically Healthier – Owning a dog has been linked to lower blood pressure, better heart health and even stronger bones. All of those walks outside provide a good dose of vitamin D in addition to exercising muscles.
- Lower Stress Levels – Interacting with dogs has been shown to lower the production of cortisol and increase the production of serotonin, which translates into a calmer, less stressed individual.
- More Active Social Life – Having a dog means getting out and walking them and, for most people, talking about them. Dogs are a natural ice breaker. They are a common bond to help start conversations and create friendships.
- Increased Productivity – Dogs lead people to take more breaks which has been shown to benefit productivity. A recent Fast Company article suggest that breaks are needed every 52 minutes to optimize productivity.
- Happier – Dog owners are less likely to suffer from depression. Research supports the mood enhancing benefits of interacting with dogs. It has been shown to increase the amount of Oxytocin in the brain which has a calming, feel good effect on the body. Dogs provide companionship and physical contact that boosts self-esteem. They are also great listeners who don’t judge. Everyone needs a friend like that!
Having a dog changes your life. Dogs teach us about unconditional love and friendship. They heal and protect. They understand when no one else does. They are great listeners and rarely talk back! Yes, taking care of a dog can be hard at times. Dogs require a lot of energy, patience, time, and, yes, they are a financial commitment. The reward more than makes up for it though. If you’re not sure if a dog is right for you, start by volunteering at a shelter. This is a great way to learn how to care for a dog, get to know various breeds and personalities, and learn training tips. Other volunteers and workers are great resources and can help you decide if you are really ready or not. If this isn’t the right time to adopt, you can still get many of the benefits of dog ownership from volunteering at a shelter…maybe more.