You’ve probably heard the buzz about millennials being obsessed with their dogs. They’re moving out of apartments and buying homes just so their dogs can have a yard to play in, “dog mom” merchandise is flying off the shelves, and researchers at Canisius College even determined that women sleep better when they share a bed with a dog instead of another human!
There are many benefits that come with having a dog, and that’s why we love them so much. A quick google search will tell you that research shows having a dog can improve heart health, decrease depression and anxiety, prevent or lessen allergies in children, decrease risk for illness, and increase empathy – just to name a few!
We see therapy dogs, emotional support dogs, and service dogs all the time, but your dog doesn’t need an official job or title in order for you to benefit from them. I’m sure all the dog lovers out there would agree that their four-legged friend is a light in their life, but if you stop and think about all of the ways they affect you, you might be surprised.
My dog, Crew, is a one-year old German Shepherd Dog who has changed my life in so many ways. If you’re thinking about getting a dog, here’s my list of a few reasons why you should:
- Structure – dogs need structure in order to be their happiest doggy selves. This will force you to add a strict routine to your life which will ultimately make you more productive and help to fine tune your time management skills.
- Exercise – they’ll need to go on a walk. Dogs need physical exercise and mental stimulation. Even if you have a small, low energy dog, you’ll still need to take them out, and this will get you up and moving. I even tried paddle boarding with my dog and while he didn’t get a lot of physical exercise, it was very mentally stimulating for him (and my arms were sore AF the next day.)
- Reduced stress – studies show that spending a few minutes with a pet can reduce anxiety and blood pressure (which will also improve heart health) and increase serotonin and dopamine. Plus, how can you look at a dog with a smiling face and a wagging tail and stay angry? You can’t.
- Improved social life – taking your dog out on the town is a great way to meet other dog owners and spice up your routine. Apps like Bark Happy can let you know of upcoming dog friendly events and allow you to connect with owners in nearby neighborhoods who might be looking for a walk buddy.
- Adventures – I have been to more restaurant patios, Bisons games, and hiking trails in the last year than ever before. From East Aurora to downtown Buffalo to Williamsville, I’m always looking for new spots where I can take my dog. It’s great for his socialization and gets me out of the house. I’ve learned about a lot of cool places that I might not have checked out otherwise.
- New hobbies – there are tons of dog sports out there that you can do with your dog. Things like agility, obedience, scent work, dock diving, lure coursing, and barn hunt are (just a few) great ways to build a stronger bond with your dog, have a blast, and meet new people.
- Sense of purpose – there’s something special about knowing that another living, breathing creature relies entirely on you. Being responsible and accountable for another life can help keep you grounded and remind you that there is more to life than just work.
- Companionship – I am never alone. And I mean literally N-E-V-E-R. Having a dog means you will always have someone to do something with. Your dog will be so excited to participate in whatever activity you’re planning. And better yet, you don’t even have to get their opinion on it, they’ll be 100% down to do whatever it is you choose.
- LOVE – the shedding, wagging, panting, love of a dog is unmatched. They will always be excited when you come home. They will always appreciate the things you do for them. They will always see you as the absolute best version of yourself, even on your worst day. Your dog will be your biggest fan, your truest friend, and your greatest admirer.
If this little list hasn’t convinced you that you should get your own dog, but you still want some of these benefits, consider volunteering at an animal shelter. You’ll get to spend time with some really awesome pups who could use the attention of someone who cares about them and you’ll get some good karma for volunteering your time!