Dogs: The ‘Ulti-mutt’ Pet
by Jamie Mitton | TuneFM Work300 Student
International Dog Day 2022 was on Friday the 26th of August so to celebrate, I’ve fetched some of the ‘paw-sitives’ of having (at least one) of these furry friends!
Creating a connection with a dog causes oxytocin, also known as the love hormone, to be produced and released. Furthermore, petting and playing with a dog can release two other chemicals, known as serotonin and dopamine, which calm and promote good mood. Dogs have also been reported to boost confidence through their loyalty, love and familiarity, lowering levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. Consequently, it has been shown that dog owners are less likely to suffer from mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. Owning a pet such as a dog for five or more years has also been linked to slower cognitive decline in older adults.
Dogs can be taken on adventures and make a great topic of conversation, especially with the funny activities they get up to, facial expressions they make and things they like or do not like to do. Therefore, dogs can promote social interaction and a means of connecting with others as well as counteracting loneliness through their companionship.
Owning a dog also provides many people with a sense of purpose along with joy. Looking after another living thing provides a sense of empathy and responsibility which is especially important for children and older individuals. This responsibility can also add routine and structure to the day such as for meals and exercise.
Wag that tail
Dogs can add many beneficial activities to individual’s routines such as going for walks. It has been shown that by making sure their furry friends are getting enough exercise, many individuals are increasing their own as well. As a result, many people are achieving the benefits related including a decreased chance of obesity, increase of vitamin D and lower blood pressure. This lower blood pressure can also be achieved through the pleasant, sensory feeling petting a dog provides.
Along with exercise, dogs’ liveliness and infectious energy also encourages their owner’s playfulness and laughter therefore boosting vitality.
Multiple studies have associated dogs with the ‘hygiene hypothesis’ which refers to the idea that exposure to environmental microbes early in life improves immune regulation such as decreased allergies. One study presented at the 2022 Digestive Disease Week even connected this theory with young children being better protected from Crohn’s disease when growing up with a dog.
Dogs are not just beneficial to families but often become an addition to them themselves. In some cases, individuals even consider their dogs as their children. One of the reasons why so many people choose to have a dog is because they can get along well with, and can have a positive influence, on any member of the family whether they are children or older relatives.
Like humans, dogs all have different personalities and traits with distinctive quirks and behaviours.
This variety means that having a dog as a pet can suit a wide variety of people and making each connection unique. Dogs also provide us with entertainment and joy which often makes stories about or involving them interesting and popular, for example, Scooby-Doo, Clifford the Big Red Dog and Lassie.
Just what the dog-tor ordered
Forming a bond with a dog is a rewarding experience, whether as a pet or for work. Dogs can be trained to perform amazing tasks in a variety of fields such as medicine and agriculture. For example, dogs can use their agility and incredible senses to assist police officers to catch criminals, locate people and detect substances, alert individuals about foods to which they are allergic, herd livestock or even provide services such as retrieving objects and opening doors.
Service dogs have been proven to reduce PTSD symptoms with better mental health in veterans a result of having a close relationship with a service dog they can easily care for.
Don’t go barking up the wrong tree
While there are many benefits of owning a dog, it is very important when deciding to get one to consider suitability factors and commitment. There are a variety of different sizes, ages and breeds of dogs meaning that this should be thought about in relation to how much room is available for the dog, how much they will need to eat, if they will shed and how well they would interact with family members such as kids and elderly individuals.
Being able to afford a dog regarding money, time, attention, training, health and social activity is a big responsibility.
If you do decide to get a pet dog, there is also the consideration of getting one from an animal shelter rather than a pet shop to give a dog a second chance at finding a loving home. For example, you can adopt dogs from the RSPCA or Armidale Animal Companion Shelter.
With so much ‘paw-tential’, you’d be barking mad not to acknowledge how ‘paw-some’ dogs are!
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