Why owning a dog can help you live a happier & healthier life

Dog owners will be able to attest that having a dog is an incredibly rewarding experience and the bond you make with your four-legged friend adds a special dimension to your life. Speaking from my own experience, the joy Charlie, my sweet-as-pie Cavalier cross, has brought into my life has been very precious indeed. Charlie and I have shared many good times together, but he has also been my constant companion through some really challenging times.

When you think about all the joy and happiness that your pooch brings into your life it would be safe to assume this would be good for you – and there are even studies to confirm it: yes, owning a dog is good for your health and can help you live a longer and happier life. Here’s why…

1. Dogs can help to reduce stress

When was the last time you gave your dog a cuddle? I bet it put a smile on your face, didn’t it? It makes sense to think that your dog can help to reduce stress levels. One study found that when researching two different groups of patients who suffered high blood pressure, the group of patients who also owned a dog were able to keep their blood pressure lower during periods of stress, compared with those who didn’t own a pet.

Another study showed that dog owners can increase their odds of surviving for at least one year after having a heart attack, with the research confirming that pet ownership is a significant predictor of survival, independent of the effects of other psychosocial factors and physiological status.

2. Dogs can help you achieve your fitness goals

Knowing how excited your pooch will get at the prospect of going for a walk or a run can be a great motivator for committing to your fitness goals. Whenever Charlie sees me getting my runners on he knows exactly what is going on and is beside himself with the anticipation of going for a walk. It also turns going for a walk or run into an enjoyable activity rather than a chore, knowing how much your dog will adore you for indulging them in this simple pleasure.

Charlotte Reeves image - happiness with your dog
Image: Charlotte Reeves

3. Dogs boost your mood

Zoming home after a long and stressful day is an instant mood booster when you are greeted by your ecstatic furry friend who can’t contain their excitement for seeing you and wants to give you a big cuddle. The unconditional love, companionship and loyalty a dog provides their owner is worth its weight in gold. If you’re going through a rough time you can guarantee your pooch will never say no to a cuddle session and will always be looking to smother you with love and affection, which will no doubt bring a smile to your face.

4. Dogs can help you to be more social

Having a dog gives you the means to easily start a conversation with someone that you may not have ordinarily spoken to. Since I’ve had Charlie, the number of random conversations I’ve had with people I don’t know have increased. There’s the conversations that begin with admiring non-dog owners that go something like: “oh your dog is so cute, what kind is he?”; then there are the conversations with other dog owners: “My {insert dog’s name here} looks exactly like him, what’s his name?”.

There are also social activities that centre around owning a dog. Every afternoon at the local park near my place dog owners congregate, taking their pooches for their afternoon walk. Even if you don’t know anyone, simply starting a conversation around your dog is the perfect opener and in no time you will have made a new friend.

5. Dogs can help you to be a better person

Caring for our four-legged friends requires us to make a commitment and be responsible for something outside of ourselves. It teaches us patience and selflessness and provides us with a sense of purpose, knowing that our dog relies on us for having their basic needs met.

Our dogs become our best friends, our trusted companions who never leave our side and we are lucky to have them around to bring joy into our lives. The immeasurable mental, physical and health benefits are just icing on the cake, but I know I’m a better person and lead a happy and rich life owning a dog.

Tell me, how has being a dog owner enriched your health and happiness?

Rachel Gadiel and her dog Charlie
Rachel and her dog Charlie by: Lauren Emily Photography.

Rachel Gadiel

Rachel is a Health and Wellness coach. Her mission is to inspire people to live their happiest and healthiest life. She is a dog lover, green juice guzzler, avid runner, Pilates enthusiast, happiness seeker, dream chaser & the proud owner of an adorable King Charles Cavalier x Shih Tzu, named Charlie.