Growing up I can’t remember a time when there wasn’t a dog in the house. I just thought they were good buddies, but I never knew they were actually helping us live longer. In fact, studies show that people who have dogs live an average of 3 years longer than non-dog owners.
If that’s not a good enough reason, then wait, there’s more! Any dog owner will tell you that within a few minutes of being around Fido or Scruffy, they just simply feel better and less stressed. Science tells us it’s not just your imagination. The stress hormone cortisol is actually lowered after spending time with the family dog. Anything that lowers stress is good for your overall health.
Studies show that people who have dogs live an average of 3 years longer than non-dog owners.
The American Journal for Preventive Medicine revealed that “dog owners walked an average of 300 minutes a week compared to non-dog owners who walked an average of 168 minutes a week.” And a University of Virgina study showed that teenagers got an average of 15 minutes more exercise a week than those that didn’t have a dog.
Just the fact that dogs have to be walked at least twice a day forces you to get some exercise. But it’s even better than that. Have you ever noticed that dogs are a good conversation starter? They also kind of force you to be social, which is good for your mental health. I’ve noticed that the neighbors refer to people as Max’s mom or Molly’s dad. Just having a dog makes people more comfortable about talking to strangers and gives them something in common to talk about.
A doggie park is a great way to meet new friends and stay active at the same time. Encourage the kids to bring a Frisbee and a ball and you’ve just created your own workout routine. There are even yoga classes for people and their dogs called doga.
Watch for signs that your dog is tiring or dehydrated and bring plenty of water for them. Just like a person who is just starting a workout routine, make sure you ease the dog into it slowly and go at their pace. If you notice they are drooling, stumbling or having trouble breathing, stop for the day. It’s best to wait until they are at least 9 months old before engaging them in any strenuous exercise. Also, older dogs usually don’t have the same energy as a young child, so take it easy with them as well.
Owning a dog is as good for the kids as it is for adults. But owning a dog is a big responsibility. Make sure the whole family is on board with the job of caring for them. As any dog owner will tell you, a dog is one of the greatest joys in life, and now we know they also extend our lives as well.
– Julie Austin is an award-winning writer and inventor. Her product Swiggies, wrist water bottles for adults and kids, was a NASDAQ product of the year semi finalist and are sold in over 20 countries. They have been approved by Child Safe International as a safe, BPA-free product.