Get a dog, they said. It will be great, they said. "They" were absolutely right.
Dogs are the best. Besides the obvious things, like cuddling and cleaning up your crumbs on the floor before you have to, there are some real tangible benefits to opening your arms to a canine — benefits you may be surprised to learn.
1. Homes that remain burglar-free are more likely to be homes that also have dogs.
From a report from the Center for Problem-Oriented Policing in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Justice: "On average, burglarized houses are less likely to have dogs than are non-burglarized houses, suggesting that dog ownership is a substantial deterrent."
The report notes that small dogs can be noisy little attention-getters, and big dogs can make a would-be robber physically intimidated.
2. Dogs can regulate our moods by stimulating our brain chemicals!
"People take drugs like heroin and cocaine to raise serotonin and dopamine, but the healthy way to do it is to pet your dog, or hug your spouse, watch sunsets, or get around something beautiful in nature," according to psychology professor Blair Justice.
3. Dogs can keep us more active and help us manage our health.
"The Health Benefits of Dog Walking for Pets and People" by Rebecca Johnson notes, "People who are the least active have the highest risk for a number of negative health outcomes, and evidence suggests that as little as one hour per week of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity can reduce risk of all-cause mortality and coronary artery disease."
So just having a little pal itching to go for a walk, helping to motivate us to get off the couch, can put us on a path to a longer life.
4. They can help children with autism be more successful.
Autistic children with a pet in the house may develop better social skills, like assertion. And the benefits don't stop with the children; research shows that families with autistic children benefit from the companionship of a dog, relieving stressors that occur with the caregiver responsibilities.
5. Service dogs aren't only for the blind. They can help with other disabilities, too.
“Moray is able to do a multitude of tasks that many people take for granted," says Lorraine Harrison, a rheumatoid arthritis sufferer, tells the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society. "He draws the bedroom curtains, fills/empties the washing machine and he is especially good at changing the bedding as I don't have the strength to do this on my own. On one occasion, I fell in the kitchen, and Moray did exactly as he was trained and went to fetch the telephone for me to call for help."
6. And dogs can give you a plethora of opportunities to harness your creative side.
“Because of the dog's joyfulness, our own is increased. It is no small gift." — Mary Oliver, "Dog Songs"
So dog lovers rejoice — what you've known all along has been validated. Dogs are a very smart choice in life companions!