In addition to living a healthy lifestyle through diet and exercise, owning a dog or being around dogs can also help with mental health and emotional well-being. Studies have shown that dogs can reduce stress and help with anxiety and depression. Additionally, due to the companionship aspect, dogs also lessen feelings of loneliness and isolation.
The Benefits of Owning a Dog
Owning a dog has several benefits in relation to mental health and well-being.
- Dog owners get more exercise. Walking, playing and running with your dog is a great way to get more exercise — which has been known to reduce stress and anxiety. Exercise also increases the body’s production of endorphins, which leads to an improved mental state and mood. People who own dogs often get more exercise due to the consistency of daily dog walking. Dogs love to explore, so even people with fenced yards are encouraged to take their four-legged friends on walks. Dogs crave consistency, so once the pattern is established the dog will help the owner get on a routine of daily walking. Additionally, consistent exercise leads to better sleep patterns and overall better health.
- Dog owners get more socialization. People with dogs can increase socialization and fight off loneliness or isolation because the dog helps the person get out of the house and interact with others. When dog walks are at a fairly consistent time, the owner will likely get to know the other dog owners in the area. A dog gives the owner a great reason to get out and interact with their surroundings or community.
- Dog owners always have a loyal friend by their side. A dog is a great companion. Always eager to be with the owner and please them, dogs make great friends. Additionally, owning a dog can help with depression because it gives the owner a purpose. Dogs never judge and they are empathetic to their owner’s feelings.
- Dog owners experience joy and vitality to life. Dogs encourage playfulness and laughter, which can help boost the immune system and increase energy. Caring for a dog offers a fulfillment and brings pleasure to the owner.
Besides being a great companion at home, dogs can also participate in recovery and substance-abuse treatments. Horizon has nine therapy dogs to provide affection and comfort to our patients.