How Are Dogs Beneficial to Mental Health?
For centuries, dogs have been known to be domestic human companions. More than any other animal in the world, they have evolved and adapted to humans in a way that sparks a deep emotional connection. Some even say that dogs have been able to pick up on traits similar to that of infants making them highly dependent on their human owners.
Whether someone is a “dog person” or not, there’s no denying that dogs and humans share a special bond. To add to this, recent studies show that owning a dog can also benefit a person’s mental health in a number of ways. The following are a few of the reasons why owning a dog can benefit your mental well-being:
Exercise: Dogs require a lot of exercise in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle and live a longer life. Responsible dog owners know that every day at about the same time, those puppy eyes will creep up on you and require that you go outside and take your furry friend for their daily walk. Owning a dog requires that you go outside daily, whether it’s a run or a walk, and also encourages friendly play. This encourages an active lifestyle and increases the amount of exercise an owner gets on a weekly basis, all of which play a positive role when it comes to mental well-being.
Social: Many dog owners are known to be social people. Taking your dog for a walk or to the park means you will occasionally run into neighborhood friends who want to play or curious people who want to pet your adorable companion and maybe even learn more about their breed. Dogs encourage owners to speak to people they come across, meet new people, and keep up with friends. This benefit can last well into a person’s later years in life when feelings of loneliness tend to be more common as a pet’s companionship seems to ease symptoms of depression or isolation.
Responsibility and routine: Dogs are creatures of habit, and if you own one you know this to be true. Owning a dog means establishing a feeding and walking routine. A dog’s internal clock will mark the time when they are hungry or need to relieve themselves and they will be sure to remind you. This can come with great benefits to those looking to establish a daily routine, and it can also benefit young children as it will teach them responsibility at an early age, all of which make for a more positive and healthier mind.
Provide comfort and make you smile: Pets are not critical. By literally always being there for their owners, dogs can lend an ear and be there to comfort humans when they notice they are feeling down. They also provide mental and physical peace simply by being next to humans and allowing them to pet them. They can even teach us a thing or two about being mindful by reminding us that there is no need to think ahead or look behind, but rather appreciate what’s right in front of you. All of these things are a gateway to stress relief and making humans feel happier overall. This companionship brings a sense of ease and a smile to our face which leads to long-term mental benefits.