Dogs are considered a man’s best friend. Owning a dog is beneficial as it provides balance, emotional well-being, and unconditional love. It is also a great pleasure to spend time in the company of these furry creatures. Dogs provide people with meaningful social support, improve physical and psychological state, increase the level of happiness and decrease stress.

The Benefits of Having a Dog are Numerous

  • Firstly, dogs promote health. They help people cope with anxiety and improve an overall mental health, not to mention a number of other health benefits. In addition, dogs are widely used to help people recover from very serious illnesses including cerebral palsy and insult.
  • Secondly, dogs provide social benefits as they influence their owner’s well-being. The pets make people happier, provide greater self-esteem and prevent depression. Dog owners are better socialized and are closer to important people in their lives than those who have no dogs.
  • Thirdly, dogs prevent stress and decrease it. These animals are considered masters at helping people feel calm and relieve stress. Dogs are the best listeners and they do not care about human actions and thoughts. When a person is upset or sad, a dog can give a stress outlet helping to cheer up.
  • Fourthly, dogs improve mood. Stroking a dog may reduce blood pressure and bring balance to our emotional state. The eyes of a favorite dog help people who are in a bad mood.
  • Fifthly, dogs ensure home security and safety. Dogs are extremely protective when a stranger comes to the door. In addition, a barking dog may put off many potential burglars and intruders.
  • Sixthly, dogs have a favorable influence on children. Children who own dogs perform better at school and are more successful. Moreover, bringing up, feeding and regular walks create a sense of responsibility.

Dogs have a positive influence on human health, emotional state. They add to the development of communication skills and the sense of responsibility as well as play an important role in child fostering and family relationships. In addition, dogs increase feelings of well being and devotion, ensure safety and even save people’s lives.

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Dogs are among the most popular pets. These animals are usually called a man’s best friends and there is a reason for it. Dogs’ intelligence, loyalty, affection and devotion are incredibly rewarding. Owning a dog may raise spirits. In addition, having a walk together, relaxing at home together or being greeted by a happily wagging tail engenders a sense of well-being. These are the main reasons why so many people own dogs. What is more important is the fact that pets can play an important social role in people’s lives. Lonely people can get a dog in order to overcome social isolation. In addition, dogs improve people’s health, help to communicate and break the ice. Hence, having a dog is beneficial as dogs provide people with emotional well-being, balance and unconditional acceptance of who we are.

Despite the fact that dogs provide meaningful social support, serving to improve owners’ happiness, well-being, and even their physical health there are not many studies on whether all people benefit from owning pets to the same degree or not and whether pets provide social support for people in general (McConnel et al., 2011). It has long been known that dogs bring a lot of pleasure to people who own them. However, there is little awareness of the advantages and disadvantages of having a dog, but it is worth knowing about. Our research is focused on investigation of the advantages of having a dog as a pet.

Health Promotion

To start with, it should be underlined that these furry friends help to cope with anxiety and dealing with them improves an overall mental health, not to mention a number of other health benefits. A research carried out for over 25 years has shown that a close contact with dogs can lower blood pressure and reduce anxiety. A dog, of course, is not the only way to solve problems, but it can help to monitor blood pressure. The study of 240 married couples showed that the owners of dogs had lower blood pressure and heart rate than people who did not own them. The similar study of children showed that there was a significant reduction of blood pressure in children suffering from high blood pressure when they stroked a dog (or any other pet) or played with it. Moreover, the children showed improvement in the general mental state, they became more obedient and easier to adapt socially.

In addition, people who own a pet, spend more time outdoors, and have a stronger immune system. Dogs can even help in social life helping people stay active and energetic. It has been investigated that keeping a dog may also reduce the levels of bold triglyceride and cholesterol. Dog ownership is considered to be one of the best predictors of survival from a heart attack. It is also believed that pet ownership, dog ownership in particular, reduces national health expenditures (Headey, 1999).

Dogs are widely used to help people recover from very serious illnesses. For example, doctors all over the world are amazed how pet dogs help children come out of a comma. There is a belief that animal assisted therapy is a great breakthrough in medicine. However, the practice of using dogs as a part of therapy dates back to the late 18th century, when these animals were introduced into mental institutions to help in communication with patients with mental disorders, people in a state of anxiety and those suffering from cardio-vascular dystopia. Such patients improved behavioral and psychological indicators of anxiety in the presence of dogs. In addition, people in wheelchairs have more positive emotions and easily communicate with strangers when they are accompanied by a dog.

Another benefit of communication with animals is immune stimulatory effects of microorganisms, which, in accordance with the hygiene hypothesis, may protect against allergies and autoimmune diseases. Studies have shown that when a dog lived permanently in the house children were less prone to develop an allergy to pets: only 19% of children with a dog in the house compared to 33% of the total statistics of children whose parents did not keep pets. This is not the only surprising fact. Much lower risk of eczema and other skin diseases and higher levels of certain chemicals in the immune system were observed among children who were in close contact with animals, dogs in particular. That allows health professionals to conclude that a stronger activation of the immune system is a result of communication with our pet friends (Headey, 1999).

It was also revealed that dogs helped people with cerebral palsy and after insult. Dogs positively influence the recovering of motor functions and mood. Children with Down syndrome are also treated with the help of dogs. For example, in a medical center in Panama, which is under the leadership of Mario Chang, doctors use specially trained dogs in a therapeutic practice that helps to cope with mental and physical disabilities including Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and autism (Dog Helps Boy Recover from Coma, 1992). Companion animals may provide unconditional love and comfort to families with children suffering from autism. Most families reported that their children have very close bonds with dogs and felt comfortable and relaxed with their pets.
The admirers of dogs state that dogs make people move more and in that way improve their health. According to the study of 351 people aged 20 to 80 published a few years ago in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine on average dog owners spend a far greater amount of time performing moderate physical activity than those who do not have a dog (Your Pet and Your Health, 2011).

A study, which was attended by new owners of a Yorkshire terrier, showed a highly significant reduction in minor health problems during the first month after the purchase of the puppy, and this effect was maintained until the end of the study. Many Americans have even calculated the percentage of survival of patients with the coronary heart disease, and concluded that the owners of Yorkies were significantly less likely to die within a year of acute myocardial infarction as compared to those who did not have a pet. In addition, older people started to spend considerably more time in physical activity, and Yorkshire terriers were thus a necessary stimulus. These results suggest that the acquisition of an animal can have a positive impact on human health and behavior, and have a prolonged effect on the overall condition. It is a proven fact that cat and dog owners exhibit noteworthy improvements in their self-reported physical and psychological health, compared with those who don’t own a pet (Prokop & Tunnicliffe, 2010).

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Social Benefits

McConnel et al. (2011) worked out and held three experiments during which they examined how people benefit from communication with dogs every day. It turned out that the advantages of having a god are stronger when pets fulfill one’s social needs. As a result, scientists concluded that “pet owners often experience greater well-being (e.g., greater self-esteem), exhibit healthier personality characteristics (e.g., more conscientiousness), and show attachment styles that are less negative towards the self (i.e., less fearful, less preoccupied)” (McConnel et al., 2011).
One more argument for keeping a dog as a pet is the fact that pets also influence their owner’s well-being. People, who have dogs, seldom suffer from depression, are less lonely, have greater self-esteem, and are happier. Dog owners are better socialized and are closer to other important people in their lives as well as receive more support from them. Scientists found that people and their animals have a strong connection and those who have “healthier personalities seem to extend their general social competencies to relationships with their pets, and that pets with healthier personalities fulfill their owners’ social needs better” (McConnel et al., 2011).

Dogs also provide their owners with social support. Dogs are good assistants for people with disabilities. In many countries, the degree of acceptance of dog guides at public facilities is rather high. Researchers find a number of benefits from this co-work. Not all people know that dogs have been used to assist people with a variety of physical and mental diagnoses since the 9th century. The first documented example of the therapeutic use of animals “occurred in the 9th century in Gheel, Belgium, where animals were part of the ‘therapie naturelle’ provided for the handicapped by members of the community” (Bustad & Hines, 1984, p.20).

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Owners and pets’ well-beings are closely related. It was studied that there is “a link between care for sick pets and owner health” (Your Pet and Your Health, 2011). When a person provides veterinary care for a pet he/she can improve his/her own health. It can be explained by the fact that when “patients like these report being more vigilant about their own condition because they think of their pet’s condition frequently” (Your Pet and Your Health, 2011). They become more interested in knowledge of the disease, focus more on treatment provided to their pets and to themselves and do the right things. A pet’s disease, that in most cases may be the same as their owners` disease, makes them think not just about their own health; as a result they become more concentrated and disciplined (Your Pet and Your Health, 2011).

From a social point of view, a walk with a dog allows not only enjoying fresh air, but also, for example, it is easier to start a conversation or strike up an acquaintance with someone. Walking with dogs or just pet care can provide moderate exercises and fellowship for those who are already at an advanced age.

Lower Stress

One of the benefits of owning a dog is that it is a master at helping people relieve stress and feel calm. It is well know that talking to a friend about a problem improve a person`s emotional state. A friend should be a good listener, so a dog is a good party. When a person is upset or sad, a dog can give a stress outlet helping to improve mood. It has been proven that people experience less stress caring out stressful tasks when their dogs are with them (Raina et al. 1999). In addition, people, who are with dogs while working, have lower levels of stress during their workday. It was found that having dogs in the workplace improved morale among all staff members.

Dogs are tactile creatures. When people are stressed, it is a good remedy to stroke a pet. A dog may lick you and it is emotional exchange. This is the interaction when people do not have to think about what someone else is thinking. When dog owners come home, they are sure that their favorite pet will wait for them. Feeding a dog and playing with it relieves routine stress and improves mood. Thus, having a furry friend can reduce stress and bring support when times get tough.

Improved Mood

For people who love animals, it is almost impossible to stay in a bad mood when they look into the eyes of their favorite dog. Researchers support the idea that animals, dogs in particular, provide their owners with mood-enhancing benefits (Allen et al., 1991; Raina et al., 1999). Animals are much easier to cope with as compared to people, as they will definitely love people without judging their words and actions.

A research has shown that a person needs to spend with a dog only approximately 30 minutes to feel more relaxed (Raina et al., 1999). In addition, playing with a dog raises the brain’s levels of serotonin and dopamine, which are neurotransmitters associated with tranquility and pleasure. Thus, simply stoking a dog it is possible to reduce blood pressure and bring balance to a person`s physical and emotional state (Charnetsky, Riggers & Brennan, 2004).

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Home Security and Safety

Many dog owners believe that their houses will not be robbed because of a vicious dog. Dogs are usually loving and sweet. However, they are extremely protective when a stranger comes to the door. Studies show that vicious and barking dogs put off many potential burglars. Using a dog as a home security system saves a lot of money, as security systems are expensive.
Even a small dog may make a person safe at home, as it may be a reliable alarm. Barking is able to deter potential burglars and intruders. A loud barking makes neighbors look out a window and if necessary call police. Moreover, dogs do not need to learn how to use a weapon or learn safety rules. Their main weapon is jaws and claws.

Dogs and Children

Psychologists believe that children who have dogs perform better at school. Reinhold Bergler, a German psychologist, found that children whose families had dogs at home were of an exemplary behavior at school and were more successful. The professor and his colleagues interviewed 400 mothers about the behavior and learning abilities of their children aged 13-15 years. Half of the respondents had dogs. It was found that children with dogs, especially boys, usually got better grades at school than their peers without four-legged friends. It is believed that regular walks, feeding and bringing up create a sense of responsibility in children (Shubert, 2012).

Animals help children become more concentrated; they capture children’s attention and teach lessons about life, devotion, love, and affection. Many children see dogs as their peers and they learn a lot from animals’ body language. In addition, it is easier to teach children become sympathetic, as animals are straightforward in their behavior and when expressing their feelings. Children-animal bonds contribute to mood improvements, higher confidence and greater empathy (Serpell, 2008).

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Child psychologists unanimously recommend getting a dog for a child who suffers from a lack of communication, is reserved, suspicious etc. The appearance of a puppy is an important part of parenting; it can change the nature of a reserved child for the better. He/she will take care of someone, talk to someone he/she trusts and with who he/she can share his/her secrets without a fear that a friend will spill the beans to someone. In addition, experts are confident that having a puppy brings feelings of responsibility, compassion and concern in a child; it teaches him/her to have the routine of the day as the dog usually gets used to walking at certain hours. In addition, the child receives daily charge of joy while communicating with a shaggy friend.

Adopting a dog brings fun and friendship into one’s home and improves a person`s health and mental state. There is no doubt that owning a dog requires hard work especially at the beginning. However, if difficulties are put aside it becomes evident that good things prevail. Dogs can reduce stress, improve health, ease loneliness, promote social interaction and exercises as well as provide a person with affection, the sense of well-being and unconditional love. It should be emphasized that having a pet dog is very beneficial to those who are ready to take care of a pet.

The benefits of owning a dog are the following: a positive effect on human health; development of communication skills; an important role in family relationships; child fostering; and positive influence on behavior. Dogs are also able to decrease the level of despair and anxiety, increase feelings of well being and devotion, increase mental capabilities and increase social functioning. In other words, owning a dog really makes a difference in people’ daily life. In addition, there are many real stories glorifying dogs, which have saved people’s lives in different situations. It is known that dogs have a special sense of prediction and are able to quickly respond in case of emergency.

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