Does your dog love you? Research shows that it probably does. In one study, they showed dogs how to open a box, then put the dog’s owner in the box. When the owner screamed for help, the majority of dogs went to the rescue. In another study, the brain of dogs had more activity in their reward centers when they were close to their owner—even more than when they had food in front of them. And, of course, your dog may cuddle and lick you when you’re feeling down—a loving feeling if there ever was one.
Of course, not everyone loves dogs, but it you’ve thought about getting one, here are some good reasons to put a Fido into your life.
*Increase Your Mindfulness: The dog can teach you how to live in the moment. Forever smelling everything in their way, dogs can teach you to “slow down and smell the roses”—to be aware of your body and all the sensations you’re feeling; to relax and take time out of your busy schedule to appreciate the beauty of life. Relaxation and feelings of joy and well-being will follow when you live in the moment.
*Improve Your Physical Health: Being around a dog can reduce your stress, lower your blood pressure, and improve your cholesterol levels. It can even help you recover quicker from a heart attack. And, walking a dog will give you needed exercise—studies show that dog owners take 2700 more steps daily, which translates to nearly ½ hours of exercise daily. Walk your dog and live healthier.
*Improve Your Mood: The affection and companionship dogs provide have been shown to reduce depression and anxiety, and increase feelings of well-being, comfort, and meaning. Lonely and depressed people feel better when they have a dog. Instead of being stuck in their own negative thoughts, they can focus their attention outwardly on their furry friend—playing with them, taking care of them, and receiving love in return.
*Give You Unconditional Love: Dogs offer the rarest of gifts: Love without conditions. They love you no matter what—even if you put them in the doghouse for a while. Also, being around a dog increases the presence of the love bonding hormone—oxytocin—in both you and the dog. Through the power of touch—caressing and hugging your dog—you will have more of these feel-good chemicals in your brain and experience the warm feeling of being close to another creature who loves you back.
Yes, dogs can be smelly, messy, and require a lot of time, money, and energy. But, the payoffs of dog ownership are more than worth the investment you make. If you choose the right dog for you and take care of it in the way you need to (plenty of attention and exercise), you and the dog will benefit greatly—physically, emotionally, and psychologically. After all, they say, it’s a dog’s world, and we’re just living in it.
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