Our dogs are part of our every day lives. So this Thanksgiving. we wanted to recognize and appreciate all of the specific reasons we’re thankful for our dogs. We’re not just talking tail wags and sloppy kisses (though those things are great, too). We’re talking about the myriad ways — small and large — that your dog makes a very real impact on your health, happiness, and sense of self to make each day immeasurably better.
Based on research from our Dog Happy Survey — and in honor of Thanksgiving — here is a definitive list of the 27 reasons that we’re thankful for the dogs in our lives.
Table of Contents
- Stress relief
- Staying active and fit
- Lower blood pressure and cholesterol
- Comforting us
- Encouraging social interaction
- Coping with depression
- Teaching us about love
- Health alert detection
- Allergy deterrent
- Mood enhancement
- Heat therapy
- Improved dating possibilities
- Study help
- Bringing joy and happiness
- Personal security
- Family conflict resolution
- Encouraging responsibility
- Making us more patient
- Reinforcing good habits and routines
- Keeping us on schedule
- Teaching parenting skills
- Improving literacy
- Self-esteem and pride
- Immune system support
- Personal assistance
Aside from being unpleasant, stress takes a serious toll on your mental and physical health. The good news is, spending time with your dog lowers your cortisol levels and boosts serotonin, both of which lead to lower stress levels.
Staying active and fit
People who own dogs tend to be more physically active and have lower rates of obesity compared to people who don’t. While it’s true that more active people are more likely to adopt dogs in the first place, the science shows that even a minimal amount of exercise — such as the 15 minute daily walk your dog requires — goes a long way towards promoting overall health, so you don’t have to be a marathon runner (or even close) to reap the benefits
Lower blood pressure and cholesterol
Statistically speaking, dog owners have fewer heart attacks and a significantly better survival rate one year after an attack.
Dogs are highly attuned to their human companions’ emotions. They can detect when we’re sad and seem to know just how to make us feel better — whether with a cuddle or just by acting silly. 79% of dog parents say their dog actively tries to comfort them.
People will stop and talk with you when they see you walking your dog. Not only is having a furry friend a great ice breaker when you see someone you want to talk to, the positive attention that people lavish on your pooch is proven to boost your mood by association.
Coping with depression
Dogs require you to care for another living thing and they make great listeners — both things that help those going through tough times.
Teaching us about love
Dogs help us better understand the nature of unconditional love, which in turn makes us more loving towards our human partners.
Health alert detection
Dogs can detect seizures, cancer, and low blood sugar long before humans can, and they can be trained to alert their owners. For many people living with these conditions, an early alert can be the difference between life and death.
Because both people and dogs enjoy companionship, spending time with a dog feeds this basic human need.
Children who grow up in homes with dogs are less likely to develop a number of common allergies.
Petting a dog who loves the attention creates a positive feedback loop that can’t help but improve your overall mood.
People who suffer from fibromyalgia and other temperature-regulation conditions get relief from cuddling dogs.
Improved dating possibilities
For the single guy or gal, dogs are the ultimate ‘wingmen.’ 66% of women and 59% of men say they’re more attracted to people who have dogs, and if you can get your pooch to approach that cutie on the other side of the park first, you don’t even need a pickup line.
When learning a new subject that requires a lot of time and focus, dogs stay by our side so we don’t have to go at it alone.
Bringing joy and happiness
Happiness is contagious, even across species. When you see a dog that’s as joyful and carefree as can be, it’s pretty difficult to resist feeling the same way.
Dogs’ razor-sharp instincts and intense loyalty make them excellent at protecting you and your home. A study conducted by Ackerman Home Security found that even small dogs act as a deterrent to burglars — after all, barking attracts a lot of unwanted attention.
Family conflict resolution
Conflict mediators have been known to use dogs in their sessions because their calming effect softens people’s hearts and makes them more open to receive opposing points of view.
Dogs help children become more responsible by making another living thing dependent on them. Children as young as eight are capable of taking on most of the duties involved with caring for a dog.
Making us more patient
Taking care of a dog requires commitment, and helps us become more patient and less selfish.
Reinforcing good habits and routines
Dogs regularly need to be walked and played with, which means we humans get up and out of the house as well.
Keeping us on schedule
Dogs help many of us wake up earlier and also return home by a scheduled time when we’re out and about.
Teaching parenting skills
As Americans are choosing to have babies later and later, they’re first adopting ‘puppy kids,’ which help them practice their nurturing instincts and familiarize themselves with the responsibility that having a kid actually entails.
Studies show that children are more accepting of peers with differences when in the presence of a dog.
Dogs are great listeners, and they’re non-judgemental, so children who have trouble learning to read often have greater success reading aloud to a dog than to teachers or peers.
Self-esteem and pride
People largely consider their dogs to be a reflection of themselves and take pride in having a dog that’s well-behaved, well-trained, or very friendly.
Immune system support
According to a study by Wilkes University, petting a dog for 18 minutes causes an increase in secretory immunoglobulin A, an antibody that protects against invading germs.
Dogs can be trained to perform a number of household tasks, such as opening doors, retrieving the telephone, and turning on lights—skills that are especially useful for people with limited mobility.
There you have it — dogs aren’t just cute, cuddly companions. They’re doggone heroes! They help us to be better versions of ourselves every single day.
So after your Thanksgiving dinner this year, give your dog a big hug and say “thank you” for being our best friends, therapists, running partners, cuddle buddies, and so much more. He deserves it.