If you’ve ever had a dog or thought about getting a dog, this post is for you. We may adopt or rescue them for many reasons, but the truth is that they offer us as many benefits as we offer them. I want to share with you all the health and wellbeing benefits of having a dog in your life, from the physical, to the mental, to even the emotional. They have so much to offer us in turn for our love, care, and meeting their needs.
Physical Benefits of Having a Dog
- Healthy routine and rhythm to the day, especially if you spend much of your day sitting down. They force us to get up to take them out, feed them, fill their water bowls, play with them, and take them for walks. I know if it weren’t for my parents’ dog, and now my puppy, I would not get up and get moving as much as I do since I have a computer-based career. Those two furry creatures force me to get up every hour, or hour and a half at the most, these days. That is so beneficial to me to get the blood flowing, to break up the monotony of working nonstop, and to get a mental break from my work.
- Daily walking. Nearly every dog needs some sort of physical activity throughout the day. Most dogs need at least 15 minutes of walking a day, and many more need at least 30-60 minutes a day. There are some, particularly high energy, breeds who need even more than that. Getting out and walking every day to take care of their physical needs in turn helps us take care of our own physical needs. Exercising is a daily activity that we need to take care of ourselves as well.
- Playing. We all need some play in our lives. Dogs are playful, they crave that attention every day and even multiple times a day. This can come in form of roughhousing, tug-of-war, fetch, frisbee, or simply running around like crazy! It is so fun for them and brings joy to our lives too. I know there are many times that I needed that fast-paced play to get the blood flowing, and the laughter of seeing how adorable the dogs look while they’re playing. There’s never a shortage of laughs!
- Overall increased activity. They help us get increased activity throughout the day, through taking them out for potty breaks, taking them for walks, and playing with them. That increased activity certainly adds up over time.
Mental Benefits of Having a Dog
- Consistent responsibility for another being. When we bring a dog into our home, we take on the responsibility for another being. We can’t just take them in and forget our responsibility to them. They need a commitment and consistent care. This causes us to think beyond ourselves and only our needs. Our responsibility to them can help distract us from our mental woes too. Whenever we’re feeling down, we still have to get up and take care of them. There’s no way around that.
- Combats mental disorders. Anyone who deals with a mental disorder of some sort will likely find benefits to their mental health for having and caring for a dog. Some of the things that dogs help combat are depression, anxiety, and PTSD among others. I personally deal with depression and anxiety on a regular basis and having my puppy has helped with my anxiety. He helps remind me that there is a bigger picture and little things that cause me anxiety aren’t that big of a deal. I just need to focus on doing my best. He has very low expectations of me, basically just to take care of him and love him. The lack of pressure, and the presence of unconditional love, helps me feel calmer.
- Talking out loud to your dog can reduce loneliness and help you intellectually. If you spend a lot of time alone, things can get lonely and you will begin to miss the interaction with other human beings. While a dog can’t talk back to you, they are still good for listening, bouncing ideas off of them, and just having some general interaction on a daily basis. I know that I talk out loud to my puppy a lot and it releases a lot of pent up stress and helps me express myself more.
- Helps you interact with other people more. You talk to more people when you walk, as you are more approachable and dogs also help break the ice. Not only that, but you feel braver when you’re walking with your dog as opposed to walking alone. Other people with dogs might also strike up a conversation with you about yours or their dogs. The other day, I had a conversation with a fellow dog owner. I’ve run into her quite a bit more since getting my puppy, even though I was out there quite often with my parents’ dog before that too. The conversation was funny, I felt like a parent because I was talking about my puppy. He elicits this level of pride for me and I really enjoy talking about him, rather than talking about myself!
Emotional Benefits of Having a Dog
- Companionship and social interaction. Like I mentioned above in the mental benefits, the social interaction with your dog is so beneficial, especially when you don’t have a chance to be with other people as often as you might like or need. Your dog is also a constant companion. They rely on you, so they will rarely leave your side for too long. Knowing that they are there and that they are someone whom you can rely on as well, helps you feel more secure and comfortable.
- Unconditional love. Dogs do not have conditions on if they love you or not. If they love you, they love you. If you take care of their needs and love them, then it’s almost guaranteed that they will love you back. Most dogs aren’t super picky about who they spend time with, although some may prefer one person over another. Knowing that someone loves you no matter what will also help you feel more secure, and less lonely!
- Affection and touch. Petting your dog can offer you many benefits. It is comforting and pleasing, and can ease your worries and stress. Their affection in return for your love is also comforting. I know whenever I feel down or need some kind of comfort, petting my puppy helps me immensely.
There are so many health benefits to having a dog, I couldn’t even list them all here. Think about all that your dog offers you in return for your taking care of and loving him. You will see what I mean, that they are so beneficial for us in so many different ways. You will have better overall health, as well as a boost in your mood and positive feelings. They may be a lot of work, especially when they are young and especially rambunctious, but they offer so much in return for the challenges!
What does your dog offer you? What do you offer them? How do those things benefit you both? Bonus: tell me about your dog(s). I love to hear about them!