Wednesday, October 28, 2020

6 Reasons Having a Dog Can Help You Lead a Healthier Life

In one way or another, 2020 has been a tough year for everyone, and we have all been challenged in unprecedented ways, ones we could never have imagined. One of the most salient difficulties experienced during this pandemic has been an inability to connect in person with those we love, our extended family members, friends, and peers. The protocols of social distancing to protect us from the virus have required us to curb our spontaneous desire, and our need for close proximity to one another, for hugs and kisses and the human touch. Never before have we experienced something so alien to our nature, our inherent need for community. Never before have we been so aware of how vital and essential these things are to our health and well-being. The human touch sustains us, balances and stabilizes us, expands us experientially, transforms us into more thoughtful, compassionate, loving beings, and makes us better than we could ever be on our own. This lack of meaningful human contact strikes at the very core of our humanity with devastating consequences; increased isolation and desperation, elevated levels of stress, anxiety, a loss of hope, and depression. For many, it has even affected the amount of time they spend outdoors, further alienating them. 

“COVID puppies or COVID dogs”, have become actual terms used within the dog world due to the pandemic. If you have ever thought about adding a dog to your household, there has never been a greater need or a more auspicious time. 

Already, many people have successfully counteracted almost all of the issues mentioned above in finding companionship with a compatible canine. This can truly be such a brilliant, healthy, and profoundly satisfying solution. In fact, our mental, emotional, and physical health may depend upon it.

These are the 6 reasons why including a dog can help you lead a healthier life.

Constant Companionship

The social pandemic of loneliness is a real thing! With restrictions in place outlining where we can go, what we can do, how many people we can see, if any, it is only natural to feel lonely. As humans, we seek connection and companionship; when we don’t achieve that, our stress levels escalate, and most often, we turn inward. 

Partnering with a dog helps to alleviate those devastating feelings of loneliness. There is a reason dogs have been said to be man’s best friend. The bond between people and their dogs, has been around for as long as we know, and it is something that cannot be found in any other type of relationship. Dogs always want to be by our side, are loyal and unconditionally loving. Dogs respond, interact, reciprocate, love to touch and be touched and never judge or discriminate.

In a time when social interaction is so limited, when we hunger for the human touch, having a dog will help to fill that void. A dog is a perfect companion! 

Regular Exercise 

Regular exercise is not only crucial to your dog’s health and happiness but also vital to our own personal physical, emotional and mental health. A dog will help motivate you to get moving while bonding and enjoying one another’s companionship. When daily neighbourhood walks become too much of a routine, explore new areas, long trail walks and even trail running, cardio circuits, or when plausible, consider building an obstacle course that you can both have fun with. The physical activity will boost your energy and help you maintain a healthy body, healthy mind, and a healthy weight.

Spending time outdoors 

Dogs need to be outside to explore, and they need to walk, but dogs are not the only ones. It has been shown that spending time in nature can boost your mood, lower anxiety and even help with your mood. Most dogs will require an hour out of doors each day. At the outset, allocating that amount of time into your already busy schedule may seem a difficult task and something you’ve never before thought to gift yourself. Now that you have a dog, you can take a break from the chaos, allow yourself to relax and embrace the calm of nature; its sights, its sounds, its smells, take some deep breaths, and enjoy the invigorating fresh air. 

You will be blessing yourself and your new companion.

Relieving stress and anxiety

We have all had frustrating and exhausting days when we just want to bury our head in a pillow and wake up the next day. This is a perfectly normal human experience, something we all go through from time to time. How often do we feel this way and what can we do to lessen the severity or frequency of such disheartening episodes? You might consider coming home to your new dog who greets you with unbridled joyful, enthusiasm; this so amply demonstrated with sparkling eyes, panting and lolling tongue, wagging tail, a wiggly bum, and endless amounts of unconditional affection. This is love, and as you pet / stroke /caress your pet, your stress hormones begin to dissipate. In fact, studies have proven that the interaction of an owner petting / stroking their pet release oxytocin in both the owners and their pets.  

So get playing and petting!

Getting a dog is definitely one of the things we can do!

A sense of responsibility 

Ever seen the slogan “My Kids have paws”? It’s no secret that many people feel a strong attachment to their dog; some bonds are so powerful that they may tell us, that their dog is their child; after all, their dog is just as dependent on them for their care as the child is to their parents. Having the responsibility of taking care of another living being, offers a strong sense of purpose and helps us to feel less alone and with greater satisfaction.

Dogs help you feel safe 

Hopefully, you already feel safe, but if you don’t, having a dog may help you work through some of those feelings. Dogs are natural protectors and quick to alert us when something is out of the ordinary; as a result, it makes sense that people quite naturally feel more secure with a dog around. It has also been proven that many people sleep better with their adult dog in the room with them, as it adds to their feelings of security. So, should we allow our dog sleep in bedroom with us? This may well be a wonderful arrangement for some but it was also shown that it’s not for everyone. Evidently, 10% of dog owners reported that they could not sleep because they had fidgety dogs. 

Before going out in search of your new dog, remember to do your research! Just as you wouldn’t get into a serious relationship with a new partner without putting your time in, be sure to educate yourself, familiarize yourself with what it takes to be a good dog owner, and decide whether you are willing to commit to the serious responsibilities of such a relationship. Understand that different dog breeds have different needs and levels of energy. Read articles about the breeds you are interested in, talk to a dog trainer and reach out to a reputable dog walker for advice and tips. 

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