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6 ways having a dog can make life more awesome

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.


This dog is practically daring you to try messing with their human. Image by Robert Judge/Flickr.

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.

When you're sad about a breakup, your dog will still be there to snuggle you and let you call them embarrassing terms of endearment. Image via Jan Vašek/Pexels.

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.


"Aren't you glad we stopped watching 'Project Runway' for a while and took this stroll, Mom?" Image via Karen Arnold/Wikimedia Commons.

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.

GIF from University of Missouri News Bureau.

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."

A service dog keeps a child company in the hospital. Image by Zipster969/Wikimedia Commons.

6. And dogs can give you a plethora of opportunities to harness your creative side.

Whether they're acting as muse for painting, writing, music, or for dusting off your photography chops, dogs can often be found doing something that will make life feel very rich indeed.

How could you not tiptoe in and get a picture of this? Image by wsilver/Flickr.

“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!

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