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Should I get a dog? 11 scientific reasons to say yes

Almost everyone has asked themselves the question, ‘should I get a dog?’ at some point. If you're contemplating this, science offers lots of compelling reasons to consider bringing a dog into your life.

Research shows that dog ownership can benefit your physical health, mental wellbeing, and even your social life. From reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease to improving cognitive function and emotional development, dogs can have an incredible impact on human health.

This article explores 11 science-backed benefits of having a dog, drawing from recent studies that demonstrate how man's best friend (and woman's) can enhance our lives.

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1. Owning a dog can be good for your heart

This study found that spending time with dogs, whether you own one or not, can positively affect your health. This can include lowering the risk of heart problems because of the increased exercise and the stress-reducing benefits of having a loving companion. Taking your dog for walks can also improve your overall heart health.

2. Dogs help reduce stress and anxiety

This research revealed that spending time with dogs can also help reduce stress and anxiety. It’s known to lower the stress hormone cortisol and increase the love hormone oxytocin. This can make you feel more calm and happy. You don’t even need to own a dog to benefit. Both short and long interactions with dogs, like therapy dog visits or having a dog as a pet, can help improve your mental health and wellbeing.

3. Dogs make you seem more friendly and approachable

Having a dog can make you seem more friendly and approachable to other people. Studies have found that when people are pictured with dogs, they seem happier, more at ease, and safer than when they're alone. This "dog effect" can make people see you in a more positive light, leading to more positive interactions and connections.

4. Dogs help improve your social life

Dogs are great for helping people feel less lonely and enjoy a better social life. In this research, experts discussed how dogs make it easier for their owners to meet and connect with other people. Taking your dog for a walk or going to dog parks can help you make new friends. This is really helpful for people who might not have many social connections, and it can improve their mental health and sense of community.

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Read more: Everything you need to know to choose the right dog for you

5. Dogs encourage physical activity

Having a dog means you're more likely to be active. This study found that people with dogs tend to walk more, which helps them maintain a healthy weight and heart, and stay fitter overall. In a nutshell, people with dogs are usually more active.

6. Dogs help sharpen your mind

Playing with dogs can improve our brains, especially for children and students. Doing things with dogs, like reading to them or teaching them tricks, can help us remember things, increase our attention span, and solve problems. According to the experts who conducted this research, having a dog around can also increase motivation for learning new tasks, potentially leading to improved academic performance.

7. Dogs aid in children's emotional development

Dogs can positively impact children's emotional development. This study found that it can help them learn to be kind and caring, get along with others, and handle their feelings. Taking care of a dog teaches children to be responsible and understand animals better. These lessons can help them interact with people better and grow up feeling good about themselves.

8. Dogs provide emotional support

Having a dog can help make you feel better. This study found dogs often make their owners feel less lonely, and they also help with symptoms of depression and anxiety. Their love and non-judgmental attitude improve your mood, make you feel better about yourself, and give comfort when you're going through tough times. This can be especially helpful for people dealing with mental health challenges.

9. Dogs help build trust and strengthen relationships

Having a dog around makes people more trusting and willing to connect with each other, which can strengthen relationships. Multiple studies that when a person has a dog with them, others are more likely to be helpful and friendly. This was seen in situations where people were asked for money, help with something, or even when getting someone's phone number. This means that dogs not only help bring people together but also make those connections more meaningful.

Read more: Benefits of a dog health plan

10. Dogs might help prevent allergies

Having a dog around when you're a child might help prevent allergies. Some studies suggest that growing up with dogs could lower the chance of having certain allergies. This exposure could potentially strengthen the immune system, although more research is needed in this area. Just know that everyone's different, so not everyone might get the same benefits.

11. Dogs reduce tiredness and boost energy

Spending time with dogs can help reduce tiredness and make you feel better overall. One study found that people who spend lots of time with dogs feel less tired and less sad than when they were just resting. So, playing with, petting, or just being around a dog can give you more energy and make you feel happier, which is good for your health.

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Need advice on buying a dog?

For expert advice on buying a dog, speak to your local vet using our find a vet page, or online using our video vets service.


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