The Therapeutic Benefits Of Owning A Dog

Having a pet around the home has shown to have many therapeutic benefits. Reducing stress, the pressures of modern day life as well as easing the feeling of loneliness can be achieved by sharing a home and your life with a canine friend. A dog, a cat or even a goldfish can provide people with the feeling in the world, namely that of unconditional love.

Dogs encourage people to take more exercise which in turn often leads to more social interaction with other dog owners. A dog will encourage a playfulness in their owners by wanting to play games with them. The one thing dogs are very good at is bringing a smile to their owners faces which is something that most people treasure about their beloved pets. All in all caring for any pet will make you a happier and therefore healthier person and this is so true of dogs.

Pets Affect Your Mood & Health

Most pet owners know what they love about their dogs and are happy to share their lives with them. However, what they often don't realise is just what an impact their dog has on their mental and physical well being. There's something very reassuring about being able to snuggle up a four legged furry friend. Recent scientific studies have only just begun to show how beneficial a human-animal bond can be. The research came up with the following valuable benefits of sharing a home with pet, namely a dog:

  • People who share their lives with a dog are less prone to suffer from depression than people who don't have a canine friend
  • Dog owners have lower blood pressure when they are presented with a stressful situation – therefore they deal with things that much better
  • Playing games with a dog or pet can increase levels of serotonin and dopamine in a person's body – both of these have relaxing and calming effects
  • Dog owners tend to have lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels which are known indicators of heart disease
  • Pet owners who suffer a heart attack are more like to survive longer than people without pets
  • Dog owners over the age of 65 tend to make fewer visits to their doctors, the results of the studies showed that this figure was as high as 30% fewer visits!
  • The research also showed these results not only applied to dog owners but to anyone who had a aquarium full of fish in their homes – watching fish swim around helps to reduce pulse rate and muscle tension

Why Dogs Have Such a Therapeutic Effect on Their Owners

One of the foremost reasons why sharing your home with a dog is so therapeutic is because it fulfills one of the most basic human desires which is to “touch”, to have some kind of contact with another living being. Studies of hardened criminals who were allowed to interact with pets has shown a change of behaviour, simply because in many cases it's the first time they have experienced a mutual affection.

Petting a dog and cuddling them helps people remain calm, the actions are soothing when a person is feeling very stressed. The companionship of a dog is second to none, easing any sense of loneliness. They stimulate the need for healthy exercise which ultimately puts a person in a better frame of mind and naturally they are physically fitter.

Dogs Help You Make Healthier Lifestyle Changes

Dogs make it so much easier to make healthier lifestyle changes and this in turn can ease any symptoms of stress, depression, PTSD, anxiety and bipolar disorder. And it all happens in the most natural of ways by simply doing the following:

  • Taking more regular exercise by walking the dog which is can be a really enjoyable social experience
  • Having the companionship of a dog means any feelings of isolation are dispelled. Caring for another living thing makes a person feel wanted and needed. More importantly having to take care of a dog means a person forgets about their own personal problems. The majority of dog owners talk to their pets which is a very good thing because it helps them work their way through any problems or troubles they might be experiencing
  • Having a dog means meeting new people, usually other dog owners when out on a walk, in a pet shop or at dog training classes
  • The companionship of a dog can offer a lot of comfort and this in turn reduces any anxiety a person may be feeling. Self esteem and confidence are bolstered which means going outside is less of a problem for people who are normally anxious to do so
  • Having to take care of a dog means organising a structured daily routine which means no matter how a person is feeling or their mood whether they are feeling depressed, stressed or anxious – they will have to take care of their pet which means they remain motivated
  • Dogs provide sensory stress relief – being able to stroke them and take them for walks are two of the best ways to manage stress

The Elderly Can Really Benefit From the Company of a Dog

Managing life's major changes as a person ages is quite a task and this includes having to deal and cope with things like retirement, the loss of a loved one as well as the physical changes involved in ageing. A dog can really help a person through these often difficult times in the following ways:

  • Caring for a dog when retired brings a lot of pleasure and helps boost optimism as well as morale. Having the responsibility of caring for a dog also provides a person with a sense of self-worth
  • Keeping connected with other people as a person ages is the key to staying motivated. Taking a dog for a walk is such a wonderful way for elderly people to spark up conversations with other people whether these new people they meet are dog owners or not
  • Having a dog encourages elderly people to take regular exercise and they add that all important vitality into someone's life. This in turn can help boost their immune system simply because they are that much fitter and healthier

Children & Dogs

Children who grow up around dogs and other pets are far less at risk of suffering from allergies and asthma. They learn about responsibility as well as compassion when there is a dog or other pet in a household. Dogs always show their love and just by being around, offer children a sense of security, especially when their parents are not around.

Research has also shown that dogs and other pets can help calm overly aggressive children or kids who tend to be hyperactive. With this said, both dog and child need to be taught the rules when interacting with each other first. Children feel immense joy when they have to look after a dog – this is something that is so important in a child's life.

Dogs & Children With Learning & Other Disorders

The studies also showed that some children who suffer with autism or any other sort of learning difficulty, are able to interact with their dogs or other pets so much better than they can with people. Autistic children have a tendency to rely on visual cues in order to communicate – this is very much what dogs do – so learning to communicate with their dog or even a cat, may even help an autistic child start to interact with other people.

Conclusion

There are so many therapeutic benefits to having a dog in a household. They are loving, giving creatures that only ask for very little in return for their unconditional love. If you have been thinking about giving a dog a loving home, there's a lot to think about and one decision that needs to be thought through very carefully is whether you should choose to buy a dog or contact a rescue centre. You may be able to offer the perfect four legged friend a second chance and take them home with you and enjoy all the benefits of sharing your life with an animal that can offer you so much. For a long time dogs have been referred to as “man's best friend” and research is proving this to be truer than ever before.


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