The Many (Sometimes Surprising) Benefits Of Dog Ownership [Infographic]

Did you know that owning a dog could help save your life? Not necessarily in a “Timmy fell in the well” context, but dog ownership has been associated with lower blood pressure, elevated serotonin levels, and much more.

Below, we’ll look at the many ways our furry friends benefit our lives — from health to companionship to security and more.

The Benefits of Owning a Dog

Source: The Dog Training Secret

Health Benefits
The benefits of a dog far extend just having a living, breathing “vacuum cleaner” around the kitchen to catch any spilled food. The correlation between petting a dog and lowering one’s blood pressure is well known, and in fact many nursing homes and hospitals have instituted dog therapy programs for their patients.

Golden Retrievers and Labradors are common therapy choices, as these dogs tend to be very easy going, and temperament is of paramount importance when it comes to choosing a therapy dog. However, small dogs are a popular choice for more immobile patients, as they can more easily be lifted onto beds.

Somewhat surprising is the correlation between pet ownership and pet allergies in children, which suggests that children of pet-owning households actually have lower incidences of pet allergies. According to Health Magazine, it’s of paramount importance for the child to be exposed to the pet in its infancy (before the child reaches its first birthday). While it’s not known for sure, it’s assumed that early interaction helps the immune system accustom itself to pet allergens.

In addition to lowering blood pressure, dogs can also help alleviate symptoms of depression and loneliness, which are both correlated with increased mortality.

Man’s Best Friend
Through many centuries of domestication, dogs as a whole are well tempered and suited to human interaction. It’s said that dogs can understand anywhere from 100 to 200 words, including names, objects, commands, and more.

In addition to their surprisingly deep vocabulary, dogs are also highly tuned into facial expressions and body language, providing unspoken context necessary to understand our intent even when they may not understand our words.

Included in the infographic above are truly touching stories of companionship which show the true emotional depth of our canine partners. While dogs may have short attention spans (whether humans are really any better is a topic for another day), they possess strong long term memories and do truly “know” us.

Home Protection
Dogs are obviously great for home security, but what you might find surprising are the recommended breeds listed above. Rottweilers and German Shepherds (which are often used by police and military) aside, many of the remaining breeds are actually small dogs.

However, given the overt friendliness of larger breeds such as goldens and labs, they may not make the most effective alert dogs. In contrast, many small dogs use barking as a primary defense, which makes them more effective when it comes to alerting you of anyone lurking around.

Of course in addition to their barking or potential threat, just the act of owning a dog can be a deterrent for many would-be intruders, who see it as an unnecessary obstacle and may choose to look elsewhere for a target.

Chris Martin is a freelance writer for Canine Scholars, the Charlotte, NC area’s premier dog training company.