Most of the dog owners we know will tell you that their dog improves their quality of life. And as we all find ways to manage during these challenging times of a pandemic, our dogs are a great source of continued comfort. Some data shows that dog owners are coping better emotionally during the pandemic than non-dog owners, particularly those who live alone. One possible reason is that dogs promote improved emotional wellbeing.
Let’s take a closer look at why owning a dog is good for your emotional wellbeing – particularly in a pandemic.
Dogs provide company
As stated above, most people need company and do not want to be alone. When you have a dog, you are never alone. What is more, the emotional bond between a human and a dog can be just as powerful as that shared by people. Humans also have a basic need for touch, and petting and hugging your dog fulfills that need.
Dogs improve physical health
All things being equal, people feel happier when they are physically healthy. Studies have found that dog owners—particularly those who live alone—live longer. That is because dog owners have a lower risk of death due to cardiovascular disease than non-dog owners.
Dogs offer empathy, comfort
Many people say their dogs can sense when they are depressed, and that their dogs then perform empathetic behavior by engaging in some sort of gentle physical contact. A dog’s ability to sense a person’s moods is why specially trained service dogs are often paired with people who have suffered from post-traumatic stress.
Dogs reduce stress
Playing with and petting a dog increases oxytocin, a stress-reducing hormone. It also decreases the production of cortisol, a hormone that induces stress.
Dogs teach us mindfulness
Mindfulness is the ability to live in the moment and accept it without judgment—which is pretty much how a dog lives its life. Interacting with a dog provides you an opportunity to focus your attention on the moment.
Dogs lead us to nature
Good dog owners take their dogs for walks a few times per day, which helps to motivate people to visit green spaces. Studies show that being in nature reduces stress and creates a sense of wellbeing.
Take some time to notice the ways your dog has impacted your life. Share some extra cuddles and treats with the furry source of positivity and light in your life!