Adopting a rescue dog isn’t just good for them, it’s good for you too. In fact, the companionship with a new pooch can motivate you to live a healthier and happier life. Of the 64% of Australians who own a pet, 40% of them are proud dog owners. From boosting your mood and confidence to helping you find meaning in old age, let’s take a look at the benefits of dog ownership.
1. The positive impact dogs have on mental health
Whether you’re struggling with depression, anxiety, stress or loneliness, pets are known to help alleviate the symptoms of mental health.
For starters, simple companionship can help you feel less isolated. Trained properly, a dog will offer you consistent affection and loyalty, helping you deal with feelings of loneliness. And if you’re feeling stressed, even just patting a pooch can reduce your blood pressure and satisfy that basic human need to touch. Scientifically speaking, you’ll actually release a powerful neurochemical called oxytocin just by looking at your little companion, which brings on feelings of joy.
On the other hand, owning a dog gives you opportunities to meet other pet owners, particularly if you attend pet-friendly events, beaches and parks. This shared interest can be the spark needed to form a new friendship.
As dogs rely on their owners to feed, clean and look after them, this routine can give you a sense of purpose and motivation. In turn, this can boost your self-esteem and well-being. Dogs also love being out and about, and need regular exercise to maintain their health and happiness. This works both ways, as walking your dog improves your own fitness and mental health.
2. Improving your physical fitness and confidence
A dog is your perfect walking buddy. Simply by needing the exercise, they’ll get you out of the house and strolling around your local park. This increased level of exercise will improve your physical fitness, reduce your risk of heart disease, and help you manage your weight. Finding motivation to exercise can be hard to muster so having a four-legged friend as your workout partner is perfect for making sure you strap on your runners.
Importantly, exercise is also great for your mental health. Being outdoors helps you develop mindfulness and puts you into contact with new people and social situations. Overall, these changes can really improve your confidence and well-being – and it’s all thanks to our furry little friends.
3. Boosting your mood at work and in social situations
The fact is, dogs make us happy, and the impact this has trickles into all areas of our lives – including work. Interacting with dogs will actually boost your serotonin and dopamine levels, helping you to calm down and relax. And when you’re happier at home, you’re happier at work. Plus, the commitment of having a dog also forces us to be more attentive and productive. As they rely on us to look after them, you naturally become more accustomed to getting things done.
Here’s another fact – people love dogs. They’re cuddly, cute, and fun. And if trained properly, they’re amazing with strangers. For this reason, dogs can be perfect icebreakers in social situations. The happiness your dog creates in your life can also increase your resilience, helping you rebound quickly from negative social interactions.
4. Dogs can help you find meaning later in life
As you age, you’ll naturally lose the things that usually occupied your time. You might retire from your career or your children will move away and start their own families. Caring for a dog can help fill these voids, bringing your life pleasure, optimism, and a renewed sense of purpose. Choosing to adopt a rescue dog can particularly add to this sense of meaning.
New friends can be hard to come by when you’re old, but having a dog helps you stay connected to people. This could be as simple as striking up a conversation while you’re out walking, or even joining a pet club. The exercise benefits of owning a pooch can also combat the physical challenges of ageing, which in turn will help you stay happier and motivated.
About the Author:
Liz Walden has a passion for all things cat and dog, and was one of the first in Australia to bring Petsecure Pet Insurance (www.petsecure.com.au) to Australian pet lovers. She is committed to promoting and supporting the amazing work done by by those who work to provide a better life for all animals. Liz is also passionate about education that supports responsible pet ownership, and strongly believes that all pets deserve the very best care.