Dogs, often hailed as humans’ best friends, have been the topic of many scientific studies looking into how they might boost our well-being. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), an estimated 78 million dogs are owned as pets in the United States. It is unclear when dogs were first domesticated, but a study Trusted Source published last year claims that, at least in Europe, dogs were tamed 20,000–40,000 years ago.
It is likely that humans and dogs have shared a special bond of friendship and mutual support ever since at least the Neolithic period — but why has this bond been so long-lasting? Of course, these cousins of the wolves have historically been great at keeping us and our dwellings safe, guarding our houses, our cattle, and our various material goods. Throughout history, humans have also trained dogs to assist them with hunting, or they have bred numerous quirky-looking species for their cuteness or elegance.
Also, researchers at the University of Harvard in Cambridge, MA, suggest that dog owners have a lower risk of heart disease.
Why is that? It is difficult to establish a causal relationship between owning a dog and enjoying better health. However, the benefits may appear thanks to a series of factors related to lifestyle adjustments that people tend to make after they decide to adopt a canine friend. The most prominent such lifestyle factor is physical activity. There is no way around it: if you own a dog, you have to commit to twice daily walks and sometimes even more.
The Benefits of Having a Dog are Numerous
Firstly, dogs promote health. They help people cope with anxiety and improve an overall mental health, not to mention a number of other health benefits. In addition, dogs are widely used to help people recover from very serious illnesses including cerebral palsy and insult.
Secondly, dogs provide social benefits as they influence their owner’s well-being. The pets make people happier, provide greater self-esteem and prevent depression. Dog owners are better socialized and are closer to important people in their lives than those who have no dogs.
Thirdly, dogs prevent stress and decrease it. These animals are considered masters at helping people feel calm and relieve stress. Dogs are the best listeners and they do not care about human actions and thoughts. When a person is upset or sad, a dog can give a stress outlet helping to cheer up.
Fourthly, dogs improve mood. Stroking a dog may reduce blood pressure and bring balance to our emotional state. The eyes of a favourite dog help people who are in a bad mood.
Fifthly, dogs ensure home security and safety. Dogs are extremely protective when a stranger comes to the door. In addition, a barking dog may put off many potential burglars and intruders.
Sixthly, dogs have a favourable influence on children. Children who own dogs perform better at school and are more successful. Moreover, bringing up, feeding and regular walks create a sense of responsibility.