“It’s just a dog.” First of all, that’s my child.
According to a 2019-2020 National Pet Owners Survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association (APPA), 63.4 million U.S. households had a dog in their family. From a young age, I was surrounded by dogs in my parents home. My dad was a dog breeder in his spare time, so often times me and my sister would socialize the puppies for 6-8 weeks before they went to their forever home.
Gus, my 6 year-old miniature schnauzer, is the first dog that I raised myself and has been with me since my first week of graduate school in 2015. The level of unconditional love received by a dog is truly unmatched. Beyond their love, I do not think we give animals (dogs specifically) enough credit. Obviously they are cute but the truth is there are so many advantages to owning one!
In today’s blog, I will touch on a few key benefits of owning a dog:
1. Dogs increase our mental health.
Many studies have shown that pet ownership can have a lasting impact on an individual’s mental health and wellness. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, roughly 75 percent of individuals who own an animal noted a significant improvement in either a friend or family member’s mental health due to pet ownership. As a result of spending time with animals in a controlled setting, those with mental health concerns can experience a range of positive outcomes, including overcoming speech and emotional disorders, increasing self-confidence, and reducing anxiety.
Pets not only provide a sense of companionship but aid in adding a level of routine to your day. For me, Gus keeps me in check when it comes to my work schedule. I know that I will not allow myself to work long hours as he needs quality time, food, and exercise. It also does my mind well when Gus greets me at the door with such excitement and enthusiasm after a long day. He is a consistent mood booster and I am beyond grateful for his steadfast spirit.
75% of individuals who own an animal noted a significant improvement in either a friend or family member’s mental health due to pet ownership.Anxiety and depression association of america
2. Dogs help us feel less alone.
With dogs, they can be a source of comfort and support when people cannot (or when you simply need a break from people in my case sometimes). As mentioned earlier, they can offer unconditional love, emotional support, and even a constant source of cuddles that can help ward off any social isolation.
A national survey of pet owners and non-pet owners by the Human Animal Bond Research Institute found that 85 percent of respondents believe that interaction with pets reduces loneliness.
Dogs can also serve as a source of security if you live alone and can be a welcomed friend for those who may be empty nesters looking for something to care for and nurture. During the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, I worked from home with very little in-person human interaction. Gus kept me motivated and was a source of support during that stretch of isolating time. No matter your age, we can all use extra company and often times pets are an excellent way to meet that need.
85% of individuals agree that interactions with pets reduce loneliness.Human animal bond research institute
3. Dogs help us stay more active.
Over the past 3 years, I have become increasingly more active in my fitness journey. I enjoy OrangeTheory, HIT Kickboxing, and outdoor runs. Nonetheless, I owe my transition into this active lifestyle to Gus as he is a rather hyperactive, restless schnauzer. He consistently needs to be walked and if left by himself too long, will quickly grown anxious and distressed. Rather than just sitting on my couch mindlessly scrolling away on my phone, Gus and I began walking daily for 30-minutes after work.
Simply being outside and away from the world — just me and my pup, was such a nice reprieve. As I began to notice the mental changes in my mood, I began to increase to running with Gus and occasionally taking hikes. Those walks and exercise habits add up! In the past three years, I have been able to maintain 35 pounds of weight-loss.
A 2019 British study discovered that dog owners are nearly four times more likely than non-dog owners to meet daily physical activity guidelines. On average, dog owners spend roughly 300 minutes walking their dogs compared to 100 minutes for non pet owners.
Statistics show that Americans spend nearly $397 million on unused gym memberships, demonstrating that regular exercise can be a challenge for many. With a pet, the ability to get some level of physical activity on a consistent basis is far more achievable than for those without a fur friend. So you can either keep waisting coins or consider adding a pet to your lifestyle.
Americans spend $397 million on unused gym memberships annuallyFINDER.com
Reap the Benefits of Owning a Dog
As you can see, there are a variety of benefits to owning a dog. If you have the time and space to add a fur child to your life, I highly suggest getting a canine friend. The time I have spent with Gus over the past few years have been some of the best as he is been apart of so many precious milestones and seasons of life.