Better Together: the many benefits of having a dog – across all age groups

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There are probably more benefits to having a Dog than you might think

 

  1. You’ll be more active, healthier and exercise more – in a fun way

Walking your Dog help you lose or maintain weight, reduces blood pressure and cholesterol

levels, and leads to reduced stress. Studies show that people with a dog had lower blood

pressure levels than those who did not.

Apart from the exercise benefits for you and you dog, walking (and socialising) your dog is

very important for your dog’s well-being and behaviour with other dogs and people.

  1. Need a pickup?

Not having a great day? It happens to the best of us.

Pets, especially dogs, help lift our mood and make us feel less lonely. A study in the

journal Science found that oxytocin is boosted in both dog and human when a dog owner

stares into the dog’s eyes. Oxytocin is one of our body's feel-good chemicals, which also

plays an important role in social bonding.

  1. Dogs are great stress-busters in all kinds of situations (some unexpected)

It’s widely recognised just how much dogs help in reducing stress levels, whether patting,

playing or going for a walk.

This is backed up by many reputable studies, and evidenced in practice by the increasingly

widespread use of dogs as therapy dogs in a variety of settings:

To help students de-stress at exam times

Dogs are increasingly being used by a growing number of third level institutions in

Ireland, UK & USA to help students deal with stress at exams.

As Therapy Dogs

The use of dogs to help patients in recovery, visit the elderly etc., has also become

widespread due to the clear therapeutic benefits especially among those with

dementia / Alzheimer’s.

The use of animal assisted therapy has also proved beneficial e.g. dogs helping sick

children better cope with health issues.

Dog-friendly workplaces

This has been found to apply in the workplace also: there are a number of studies

showing that dog-friendly workplaces lead to reduced stress, increased productivity,

less absenteeism, and improved relationships with co-workers / teambuilding.

Employers also gain a competitive advantage in recruiting and retaining top talent as

a pet-friendly policy is increasingly a factor among millennials.

Left to right: Zynga Games, Google, Nestlé Purina Gatwick Paws at Work (PAW)

programme

  1. Social Capital

Dogs are social beings and great ice-breakers, and this rubs off on their owners. People are

more likely to stop and talk with other dog lovers when walking a dog. This can help people

make friendships, connect socially with neighbours, make them feel more social and less

isolated, and improve psychological well-being and self-esteem.

  1. Dog walking groups

This is a growing trend where dog lovers meet on a regular basis. These can be on an

informal basis with friends and neighbours, while some are more structured and take in

organised walks, occasionally involving a small fee or charge.

Dog walkers on West Wittering Beach, November.

This trend can lead to sharing the dog walking / dog sitting as needs arise due to work

commitments, travel plans etc., and can also include dog-walking for elderly or infirm

neighbours.

  1. Health benefits for children

Children in households with dogs are less likely to have allergies. Research shows that living

in a home with a dog can result in increased immunity to pet allergies later in life.  A study in

Science Daily found that children who grow up with dogs in the home have fewer allergies

and are less likely to have eczema.

  1. Dogs are good for children in other ways too

It’s not just about allergies..…

Children with dogs tend to be more empathetic, and also tend to be more popular with their

peers and have healthy self-esteem, all of which impact their emotional and social

development.

A newly published study by the University of Cambridge adds to increasing evidence that

household pets may have a major influence on child development, and could have a positive

impact on children’s social skills and emotional well-being.

  1. Mental health benefits of dog ownership

Dog owners are less likely to be depressed.

Dog owners who have been diagnosed with clinical depression are likely to be less

depressed than people in similar situations without a dog.  Caring for a dog has been found

to help relieve symptoms of depression while encouraging people to be more positive.

  1. Companionship at every stage of life

Pets positively impact feelings of loneliness and isolation and provide companionship across

all generations.

  1. Safety & Security

Many people, especially those living on their own, the elderly etc., find great comfort in the

physical presence of a dog.

Police authorities recognise dogs as one of the most effective deterrents for would be

burglars.

  1. Dogs are for life. Not just for Christmas!!

A dog is a long term commitment.

Choosing a companion that will suit your lifestyle is really important to ensure you can

commit to the time and level of care and attention that the dog needs on an everyday basis

for the rest of his/her life.

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Sources

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/award-barcelona- hospital-film- shows-bernard- meunier

http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/get- healthy-get- a-dog

http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/pets-can- help-their- humans-create- friendships-find- social-

support-201505067981

http://science.sciencemag.org/content/348/6232/333

http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/therapy-dog- offers-stress- relief-at- work-201107223111

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/03/pet-social- connectedness-young-

adult_n_4703790.html

http://www.drsfostersmith.com/PIC/article.cfm?aid=1201

http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/pets-can- help-their- humans-create- friendships-find- social-

support-201505067981

https://www.waltham.com/news/pets-are- a-childs- best-friend.shtml

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