A recent video clip of Brian Cranston talking about how dogs can bring out the best in us on the BBC Facebook page inspired us to find out more about how dogs make us happy and also how we might be able to live more simply.
Here’s what we found….
Researchers at the University of Miami found pet owners are happier and healthier than those who don’t own pets. They studied dog owners specifically and found that dogs boosted their owners wellbeing – the owners had higher self esteem and felt that life had more meaning.
Just hanging out with my dogs makes me feel happy and it looks like Japanese researchers have found the reason. The love hormone (oxytocin), which can make us feel happy, is triggered by interaction with dogs – even something as simple as makin eye contact with them! Petting a dog can bust stress and make you feel calmer.
Karen Allen, from the State University of New York, conducted a study in to dog ownership and cardiovascular health and found that having a dog around gives lots of benefits, including helping people to deal with stress. Something I am sure we could all benefit from with our hectic lives!
Dog owners are more physically active than non-dog owners which mean they are healthier. A group of researchers in Western Australia reviewed the evidence about dog ownership and exercise and found that those that own dogs engage in more walking and physical activity compared to people who don’t own a dog. Daily exercise is great for you and your dog and can deepen the connection you have.
According to Happify, provider of online science-based activities and games, pets can make us feel better because they offer social support which helps us de-stress, provide physical contact with another living being which is good for our wellbeing, and they relax us by providing a distraction (see here for their great infographic).
If you have depression or anxiety owning a dog can benefit you by helping to ease your symptoms, make you feel happier, less nervous and build self confidence. Stroking and cuddling a dog boosts the feel good hormones in your body and it also makes your dog happy too – its a win win!
Having a dog is a great way to make new friends as owners often stop to talk to each other on walks, at pet shops or in dog training classes.
According to the American Kennel Club 46% of women say they’d stop and talk to anyone they saw out and about with a cute woofer in tow. Since getting our dogs, Archie and Lulu, and starting Wiff Waff Designs we have made some great friends – all thanks to being dog owners! Also, Children who are attached to their dog are more likely to develop a positive self image and make friends easily (Harvard Medical School).
Brian Cranston says, in the video clip above, if we live our lives simply “the world could be a much better place”. So, what does living simply mean? The Science of Imagery defines it as: “stripping away the non-essential and focusing your time and energy on the things that matter the most”. A dogs life is certainly an example of a simple life – they know what they want and it does not take much to make them happy. Good food, exercise, love and play – perhaps we should all take a leaf out of their books!?