two wet dogs

As more and more research is being done, one thing has become much clearer: Pets are good for us, especially dogs, from benefiting our social lives to maintaining and improving our physical and mental health.

Using dogs for specific therapies is nothing new. The idea of dogs leading the blind may go back as far as the 16th century, and Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote in her 19th century novel “Aurora Lee,” “The blind man walks wherever the dog pulls…”

We do know that the first guide dogs specifically for the blind were trained in Germany at the end of World War I, and the first mental health service dog, a Yorkie named Smoky, was found by a soldier near the end of World War II and served as a therapy dog for soldiers for twelve years.

So why did it take us so long to figure out that dogs in the household have other benefits? Probably because they made an abrupt transition from outside working dogs to inside family members after World War II and, while we instinctively knew they were good to have around, it took science a while to actually determine the reasons why.

Here are five benefits of having a dog that you may not have been aware of.

Exercise Yourself

For years, Cesar has listed exercise as the most important thing that we can give to our dogs, but it’s also the best way that dogs give back to us. Dog owners who go on regular walks are more physically active than people who have other pets or no pets at all.

According to the Mayo Clinic, regular exercise can help people control their weight, combat health conditions like high blood pressure, improve mood, boost energy, promote better sleep, enhance your sex life, and have more fun.

That list sounds like the claims made by a late night infomercial promoting a miracle cure, but if you walk your dogs at least a half hour every day, this is exactly what you will get back for yourself.

Protect Your Children
Not only are dogs natural protectors of their home and pack, research now indicates that dogs can protect your children’s immune systems and help prevent allergies and conditions like eczema.

Don’t Worry, Be Happy
A recent study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology looked at pet ownership and overall happiness, and it showed that pet owners were generally better off than non-pet owners, with lower levels of fearfulness and obsession. Owners who relied on their dogs for social fulfillment felt less depressed and lonely, had higher levels of self-esteem and happiness, and were less likely to feel stressed.

The above are just a few of the overall benefits of owning a dog as they relate to health and happiness, but there are many other reasons. Dogs provide home security, of course, and they also provide a source of entertainment and comfort. Dogs can also teach responsibility to children and adults, and can be trained to assist people with mental or physical handicaps.

Maybe it’s time to rewrite that old adage — a dog in your day keeps the doctor away!

What are some of the benefits your dogs bring into your life? Share your story with us in the comments!

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