6 surprising mental health benefits of owning a dog

health benefits

If you’re a busy parent/caregiver, there’s probably never a perfect time to get a dog.

However, if your children are mad about animals and have been pestering you for a dog for years, chances are that at some stage, you’re going to relent and get one.  

If your children are older, they can and should help out a lot with the new family member but honestly, once they start to have lives of their own, you’ll be left with the lion’s share of the responsibility.  

And, we won’t lie, pets are a big responsibility – especially dogs.  

They have to be toilet-trained, walked daily, played with regularly and taught how not to chew your favourite shoes or furniture! 

However, there are a lot of physical and emotional benefits to owning a dog. Here are a few of them:  

1. They reduce anxiety and stress 

As well as bringing fun and laughter to your home, having a pet can also reduce your stress levels just by sitting beside you.  

Stroking a dog, cat or any type of animal is a form of sensory stress relief and has been proven to reduce blood pressure and help you feel calmer if you’re upset. 


2. They make you feel safer and more secure 

If you’re at home alone for a lot of the day, having a pet can give you a sense of security. 

Their loving, non-judgemental presence also makes them the perfect candidate to talk to when you’re worried or have a problem that you’re not ready to talk to an anyone else about.  


3. They promote a healthier lifestyle 

Studies have shown that dog owners are more likely to reach their daily exercise quota than people without dogs.  

Hail, rain or shine, a dog needs to be walked which means you will automatically become fitter and healthier as a result. Win-win! 


4. They contribute to your confidence and positive self-image 

It’s not something that happens overnight but taking care of something besides yourself gives you a sense of purpose and accomplishment unlike anything else.  

As you watch your pet thrive, not only will you feel good about yourself but you will also feel more confident in your approach to other areas of your life like your friendships, relationships and career.  


5. They add structure and routine to your day 

When you own a dog, you need to remember to feed it, take it for a walk, groom it, etc. If you’ve previously struggled with getting out of bed early at the weekend, all it takes is one pleading look from your dog and you’ll be pulling on your runners and taking it for a long walk in the park before you have time to think about it!  


6. They bring joy and unconditional love to your life 

Anyone who has ever owned a family dog will tell you there’s nothing quite like the greeting you get from them when you walk in the door.  

It doesn’t matter if you’ve been away for a day, a month or a year, their excitement at seeing you will make your heart overflow with happiness and you’ll know what it’s like to feel truly loved and appreciated.  


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