Dogs and human are known to have shared a special bond of friendship and mutual support ever since at least the Neolithic period, but why has this bond been so long-lasting?
Historically, dogs have been great at keeping us safe, guarding our houses and our properties. Throughout history, humans have trained dogs to assist them, or they have bred many quirky-looking species for their elegance or cuteness.
Dogs are also truly valued companions, known for their loyalty and constant willingness to put a smile on their owners’ faces.
How Dogs Keep You in Good Health
A lot of studies have suggested that having a dog is associated with better physical health.
Just last year, Medical News Today – a healthcare publishing company – reported on a study that showed owning a dog reduces a person’s risk of premature death by up to a third.
Another research suggests that dog owners have a lower risk of heart disease.
It is hard to establish a causal relationship between owning a dog and enjoying better health. However, the benefits may appear thanks to a series of factors associated to lifestyle adjustments that people usually make after they decide to a adopt a canine friend.
The most prominent lifestyle factor is physical activity. If you own a dog, you must commit to twice daily walks and sometimes even more.
Several recent research from University of Missouri in Columbia and another from Glasgow Caledonian University in UK discovered that adults aged 60 and over enjoy the better health because of the “enforced” physical exercise they get by walking their dogs.
Dogs Make Their Owners Feel Good
Perhaps the most intuitive advantage of sharing your life and home with a canine friend is that they give you “feel-good-vibes” instantly.
It is difficult not to cheer up, even after a hard day’s work, when you are greeted with enthusiasm by a friendly dog.
Researchers explain that this is because of the love hormone called oxytocin. When we interact with our dogs, our oxytocin level shoots up. Since this hormone is largely responsible for social bonding, this hormonal love injection boosts our phycological well-being.
Previous research revealed that dog owners have much more positive social interactions, and that the presence of canine friends tends to make people more trusting and more deserving of trust.
Additionally, dogs seem to reduce symptoms of depression and render people far more resilient to stress, which is why they are often used as therapy animals.
Researchers hypothesize that therapy dogs can greatly improve the psychological well-being of children going through cancer therapy, as well as help those people who are diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PSTD) deal with disruptive symptoms and even avert the onset of PTSD episodes.