Why owning a dog is beneficial to your wellbeing
- Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto
Pets can give you companionship inside and outside your home.
It’s becoming widely acknowledged that having a feline or canine housemate can have hugely positive impacts on our wellbeing. Perhaps first and foremost they offer a sense of companionship, something which is crucial for maintaining good mental health. ‘Pets are always there,’ says Victoria Zamperoni from the Mental Health Foundation. ‘They’re non-judgemental and they give you unconditional support.’
Dr Julia Wrathall, chief scientific officer at the RSPCA, adds that being close to animals can actually have physical impacts too. ‘Evidence suggests that when we stroke animals – or in the case of dogs, when we just look into their eyes – our bodies release oxytocin, a hormone that brings about bonding between individuals as well as helping us to feel more optimistic and lowering blood pressure.’
Another key advantage of living with an animal is that they force you to get active. Dogs need regular walking, and those puppy eyes are bound to provide you with some motivation to get out of the house and into the great outdoors. ‘Staying active is something that we all know is really good for our physical health, but it plays a big role in our mental health too,’ adds Victoria. It’s a chance to escape the stresses and strains of day to day life, with your dog being the sole focus of attention. ‘We recommend that you really use the opportunity to connect with nature,’ suggests Tamsin. ‘Put your phone away, and be present in the moment. We can definitely learn the art of that from the dogs themselves, because they’re all about what’s happening right now.’ Being out walking the dog is a great way to meet new people, too; a friendly-looking, four-legged friend is bound to encourage social interaction, and things like dog training classes are a fantastic opportunity to meet like-minded canine lovers.
In the current climate of practising social distancing, meeting other dog owners isn’t advisable at the moment, but owning a dog will definitely motivate you to take that hours worth of exercise every day while the country is still on lockdown.
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