The Benefits of Having a Dog

A medium sized white dog laying next to a German Shepherd on a couch.

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I used to not be a dog person, but after getting our first dog they grew on me.

​Then, once we got Luna, I started enjoying having dogs even more.

​Luna really started to show me that there are more benefits to having a dog than just companionship.

She keeps me company when I’m home alone, but she also tries to keep me more active.

Pin image of a German Shepherd sitting by the door waiting to go outside with a text overlay that reads the benefits of having a dog.

Unconditional Love and Companionship

Imagine coming home after a long day. 

Your furry friend greets you at the door, wagging their tail, a bundle of joy and excitement, showing you what unconditional love truly looks like. 

This simple act has, time and again, lifted spirits and diminished the stress of the day. 

Dogs possess an innate ability to offer affection without conditions, making them not just pets but family members to those who welcome them into their lives.

The bond between humans and their canine companions is unique and profound. 

It’s a connection that dates back thousands of years, evolving from mutual utility to deep emotional support.

Dogs have earned the title of ‘man’s best friend’ through their unwavering loyalty and companionship. 

They have a way of sensing our feelings, offering a comforting presence in tough times without the need for words. 

I know that whenever I’m feeling down, Luna is usually right there offering me support. 

A Healthier Heart

A German Shepherd sitting by the door waiting to go outside.

Studies have revealed intriguing links between dog ownership and heart health. 

The American Heart Association pointed out that those who own dogs might enjoy lower blood pressure levels. 

This discovery sheds light on how furry friends contribute to maintaining cardiovascular health. 

It wasn’t just a one-time finding; several studies backed up these claims.

Lower cholesterol levels often accompany the lowered blood pressure seen in dog owners. 

This combination plays a crucial role in reducing the risk of heart disease.  

Moreover, owning a dog has been linked to better survival rates after a heart attack. 

This benefit could stem from the emotional support and stress reduction that dogs famously provide. 

As heart disease remains a major health challenge globally, the role of dogs in promoting cardiovascular health cannot be understated. 

They encourage a lifestyle that not only combats high blood pressure but also fosters overall well-being.

Mental Health Boosters

A German Shepherd laying underneath a desk.

Dogs have mastered the art of melting away our stress. 

A furry friend can significantly lower stress hormones, creating a calming effect that many of us find indispensable. 

They offer a unique form of emotional support that has people with high blood pressure receiving unexpected benefits. 

After a long day, the simple act of petting your dog lowers heart rates and blood pressure levels, showcasing their innate ability to soothe us without uttering a single word.

Their impact on our mental health can’t be overstated. 

For those grappling with anxiety and depression, dogs emerge as four-legged therapists. 

They give us reasons to step outside, engage in physical activity, and meet new people. 

Daily walks become more than just exercise; they’re a gateway to a healthier mindset. 

Their companionship provides a sense of security that eases our anxious minds, allowing us to face tough times with a resilient partner by our side.

Moreover, the presence of a dog in our lives injects a healthy dose of the love hormone, oxytocin, which is a natural antidote to stress and sadness. 

The relationships we build with our canine companions illuminate the myriad ways in which they enrich our lives, proving themselves to be more than just pets but essential members of our support system.

I know when I’m having a stressful day, petting Morgan or playing with Luna makes me feel better.

Especially when I can see how happy they are when they are getting my attention.

Encouraging an Active Lifestyle

A German Shepherd in the yard holding a Kong flyer in her mouth.

Owning a dog nudges you into a more active lifestyle, almost without you noticing. 

Daily walks become a part of your routine. 

These aren’t just leisurely strolls but opportunities for your furry friend and you to explore the world together. 

They challenge you to increase your physical activity, which leads to better health overall. 

Engaging in outdoor activities with your dog, like running or playing fetch, strengthens your physical health. 

For many dog parents, the simple act of walking their four-legged friends forces them to step outside, breathe fresh air, and move their bodies. 

Social Butterflies

Dogs have this magical ability to turn even the most reclusive among us into social butterflies, or at least bring us out of our shells. 

It seems that with a furry friend by our side, barriers crumble, and new people approach us with smiles and open arms.

Imagine you’re out for a daily walk with your canine companion, the camaraderie between you and your dog draws the attention of fellow dog parents. 

Suddenly, you’re not just an individual on a walk, but a part of a community, sharing laughter and stories about your four-legged friends. 

Your dog has unwittingly become a bridge to new friendships.

This isn’t just about making new friends; it’s about building a social support network. 

For older adults or those experiencing social isolation, this can mean the world. 

Benefits for Older Adults

For older adults, the gift of canine companionship can transform golden years into a period of renewed purpose and joy. 

Dogs, with their unwavering love and loyalty, provide not just friendship but a shield against the biting cold of social isolation. 

Older people often find themselves facing longer stretches of solitude. 

A furry pal at home means there’s always someone to talk to, to care for, and to greet them with unbridled enthusiasm. 

This dynamic significantly cuts down feelings of loneliness.

There’s compelling evidence suggesting that older adults owning dogs might enjoy sharper cognitive function. 

Beyond the mental aspect, there’s the physical aspect of owning a dog as well.

Dogs compel their owners to step outside for daily walks. 

This regular physical activity is a cornerstone of good health, assisting with weight management and improving cardiovascular health.

For many older adults, their furry friends are the reason they get up and embrace the day, making every moment an opportunity for exercise and fresh air.

Service and Therapy Dogs

Service dogs and therapy dogs have transformed the lives of countless individuals by offering unmatched support for both physical and emotional health issues. 

These furry friends do more than just provide companionship; they are specially trained to perform tasks that assist people with disabilities. 

This enables a sense of independence and security for their human partners. 

Service dogs can guide the visually impaired, alert those with hearing impairments to sounds, and even detect impending health crises, such as heart attacks or seizures before they occur.

Therapy dogs, on the other hand, have carved their niche in providing emotional support to those in stressful situations or experiencing social isolation. 

They visit hospitals, nursing homes, and schools, where their presence can reduce stress hormones and elevate mood. 

Just the simple act of petting a dog can lower blood pressure levels, reduce anxiety levels, and increase levels of the love hormone, oxytocin. 

For older adults and young children alike, these interactions contribute significantly to their overall health and emotional well-being.

Choosing to involve a service or therapy dog in one’s life is not a decision made lightly.

It comes with considerations of the responsibilities involved in caring for these animals, including vet bills and daily care. 

Yet, the physical health and mental health benefits they offer make them invaluable family members and companions in navigating both the tough times and the joyous moments of life.

Choosing the Right Dog

A white dog laying on a bed.

Finding a furry pal that aligns with both your lifestyle and health needs may seem daunting. 

Each breed brings its unique set of characteristics. 

This selection often affects your daily routines and overall well-being. 

You yearned for a four-legged friend, envisioning daily walks and new friendships, both for your pet and yourself. 

Yet, the path to selecting a new puppy or dog involves careful consideration of more than just their irresistible eyes or fluffy coats.

Some breeds are much more active than others, demanding regular exercise beyond simple walks. 

When choosing a dog to join your family think about your living situation.

​Factor in whether you have young children, or plan to in the future, and how much time you can dedicate to training and daily exercise.

​Also, consider if there are any allergies in your family as this may limit your options to the breeds that are less likely to aggravate those allergies.

Finally factor in the size of your home.

While I know people who have had large dogs in a third floor apartment, I wouldn’t recommend it.

Larger dogs tend to need more area to run around than smaller dogs.

Choose your new dog based on your lifestyle and their energy level, not just by which one is the cutest.

Becoming a Dog Parent

Welcoming a new dog into your life marks a beginning filled with love, albeit not without its responsibilities. 

It demands a commitment that goes beyond mere affection. 

Initially, one must understand that a dog isn’t just a pet but a family member, relying on you for their basic needs—food, shelter, and love. 

This addition means vet bills will join your list of expenses; remember, caring for their health is vital.

Their heartwarming presence comes with the task of regular exercise. 

Daily walks become part of your routine, ensuring you both enjoy a dose of fresh air and physical activity. 

These moments, while improving your overall health, strengthen the bond between you. 

And it’s not just the physical strides you’ll make together. 

The emotional support you gain through thick and thin enhances your mental well-being. 

Their capability to lessen stress is unparalleled.

Yet, the leap to dog parenthood requires a pause for thought about your lifestyle. 

If long hours away from home are common, remember your new four-legged friend will need company, stimulation, and bathroom breaks.

This journey, while providing joy and companionship, asks for patience and understanding as your new friend settles into their role within your life and heart.

Where to Get Your New Dog

Once you’ve decided to welcome a new dog into your life, you need to make a couple of decisions.

One, are you looking for a puppy or an adult dog?

And two, where are you going to get them?

If you decide you want a puppy, you have more options on where to get them.

You can get a puppy at some pet stores, from breeders, or an animal shelter.

Adult dogs are most likely to come from a shelter.

There are benefits to getting your dog from a shelter instead of a pet store or breeder.

​Most animal shelters (at least the ones around me) get their animals from the pound after they have been there for a few days.

​The shelter then finds the animal (mostly cats and dogs in my area, but occasionally other pets like rabbits, guinea pigs, and a chicken) a new home.

By adopting a dog from the shelter you not only get to provide a loving home for your new pet, but free up space for them to help another animal find their new home.

Adoption fees at these shelters often cover the cost of spaying/neutering, first vaccinations, and sometimes even microchipping. 

This means you’re not only getting a new friend but are also taking responsible steps towards their health and safety. 

Moreover, the staff and volunteers at these shelters have spent time with these animals. 

They can provide invaluable insights into their personalities and behaviors, ensuring that you and your four-legged friend are a good match.

I have gotten my pets, both cats and dogs, from multiple places.

Morgan, we adopted as a puppy from a local shelter that takes in both cats and dogs. 

She was born in a foster home after her mom arrived at the shelter just days before giving birth.

Luna, we purchased from a small breeder after she was returned by the original buyer because he decided full time college and full time work did not leave time for a new puppy.

Tsuki and Howl we adopted from the local cat only shelter a couple of weeks after Howl was old enough to be adopted (Tsuki is Howl’s mom).

They were in a foster home that also had dogs which made them the perfect fit for our house with two dogs.

Shelters, at least the two I’ve adopted from, also offer the ability to have a home trial to make sure the individual animal you pick fits in your home.

​We had three weeks to make sure Tsuki and Howl would work out with Luna, we weren’t concerned with how they would get along with Morgan.

​Choose the best place for you to get your dog. 

Where you get your new dog isn’t as important as getting the right dog for you.

Do your research and find the dog that will fit in your life the best.

Then love that dog like family.

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Pin image of a German Shepherd in the yard holding a Kong flyer in her mouth with a text overlay that reads benefits of having a dog.

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