Owning a dog has been one of the greatest blessings of my life. In my opinion, there’s nothing that can compare with the love and devotion a dog has for its owner. Comparably, responsible dog owners love and care for their furbabies the same way they would their own child.
The relationship between a person and their dog is something unique and wonderful and if you’ve never experienced the kind of unconditional love and companionship that a dog can give, trust me… it is beyond compare.
But did you know that owning and caring for your dog is also good for your physical and mental health? If you already have a dog or two, I’m sure you’ll definitely agree with this! For those who have yet to make a decision about getting a dog, keep reading to learn just how great having a dog is for your health and wellbeing.
Routine and Care
As a responsible pet owner, you’re acutely aware of your dog’s needs. The need for food and water, the need for a loving, comfortable home and the need for exercise and play are all things that you have to provide on a daily basis.
Studies show that because of the necessary routine that is demanded of you as a pet owner, you become more aware of your own needs and can respond to both better, thus living a healthier and better life.
Aside from the physical aspect, the feeling of being needed and depended upon by your dog is also beneficial to your well-being and mental health.
Unconditional Love and Companionship
Having a dog can help alleviate loneliness which many people struggle with today. As social beings, we have a need to connect and have relationships. The need for touch and the need for interaction—these are important needs that having to care for a dog address.
One very big factor is the unconditional love a dog has for you. This, in itself, has a very positive effect on your emotional and mental well-being, especially for those dealing with feelings of loneliness and isolation. Having a dog provides companionship, acceptance and unconditional love. There is also a sense of calm and security that comes with owning a dog.
It has been noted, too, that having a dog as a pet releases oxytocin in the body—the hormone responsible for good feelings and positive emotions. There is also a decrease in the stress hormones found in the body which also supports emotional and mental well-being.
Dogs can be very in touch with the emotional state of their owners. I know that my dogs can sense when I’m having a bad day, am feeling down, or am upset about something. They are always ready to give me a furry shoulder to cry on, to snuggle, or to do something especially cute or goofy to cheer me up.
The needs of your dog also encourage socialization. Having to go out with your dog for daily walks or routine visits to the vet allows you to interact with people around you and your community which is always good. It fosters and supports the creation of new relationships and interactions with other pet owners, vets and your community in general.
Studies have also shown that these interactions and the companionship that comes with them lead to fewer stress hormones and is beneficial to health.
Having to care for your dog is not only great for mental wellbeing but also your physical health. The needs of your dog provide more opportunities to get up and be more active. Having to walk your dog, or get up to feed, bathe and play are times when you have to really get up and move. For some that are suffering from mental health issues or depression, these moments are important and truly beneficial as they help get in some physical activity throughout the day.
The need to go out and do activities with your dog can also encourage participation in your community’s activities. Fur-baby play dates are a great way to not only get movement and activity for you and your dog but they’re also opportunities to meet other people, interact and be a part of a social group.
It’s true that having a dog is a big responsibility to commit to, and it takes a lot of time, effort and resources to be able to be a parent to your fur-baby. But, the rewards and benefits to your physical, mental and emotional well-being are beyond compare.
As we celebrate National Dog Day, it’s great to know and celebrate this wonderful and unique relationship.