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Have you ever thought about the many benefits we receive from owning a dog? Not only are they good company, but they offer many attributes that we humans need every day. According to the website, Greater Good Magazine, here are a few of the benefits:

Dogs stave off loneliness

Many of us are feeling a bit lonelier than usual these days; sheltering-in-place and keeping social distancing is hard for everyone. Being without human touch is particularly difficult: people who are touch-deprived tend to feel more depressed, experience more pain, and even have poorer immunity. But having a pet around (including dogs or their cat rivals) can help prevent loneliness. Dogs become family members, providing unconditional love and easy companionship. We are bound to feel less isolated with a soft, understanding, loving animal keeping us company. For those people who are grieving the loss of a loved one, a dog can sense our mood and pick up on this through our visual cues, crying, frowning and/or other body language, and can tell we are sad. Sometimes when a dog is zoning in on someone who is sad or grieving, they will lie down at the person’s feet and wait for the grieving person to acknowledge them. This is a dog’s way of letting people know they are there for them and they will wait patiently until that person is ready to reach out to the dog through a stroke, a kiss or a verbal thank you. Our Fidos are there for us in the good times and the bad.

Dogs reduce stress and anxiety

Many of us have been stressed and anxious during the pandemic. We do not know when we will be able to move about freely again, our jobs may be compromised, and we are worried about contacting the virus or passing it on to others. We also feel limited in doing the many things that usually help us manage stress better, like going to the gym or having dinner with a group of friends. A dog can help! It has been proven for many years that petting a dog can create a soothing effect that enables us to unwind and feel calmer and relaxed. With their warmhearted nature, it is no surprise that therapy dogs are so effective in stressful situations like when people are ill, grieving or in stressful situations such as a shooting event or following a weather disaster.

Dogs help us get along with others

While many of us are seeing our friends on Zoom and in other physically distanced ways during the pandemic, it can be hard to feel truly connected. And, as the quarantine drags on, it may be harder to get along with the people whom we live with, like our partners and our children. Fido will force us to get out and get some needed exercise; and along the way, we will see others who are walking their dogs. It is true that when someone is out and about with their dog, people consider them to be more approachable than someone without a dog. It is nice to know dogs can act as a kind of social glue.

Dogs keep us healthier

All these advantages: being less lonely, reduced stressed and anxiousness, and being more connected to others, also tend to make us healthier. There is direct evidence that dog owners experience a variety of health benefits. Getting into a routine of walking once or twice a day is a great exercise and stress reliever. A review of multiple research studies has found that pet owners have significantly lower heart rates, arterial pressure, and systolic blood pressure, suggesting better cardiovascular health. Some of this may have to do with the fact that most dogs need to be walked, and so people who own dogs tend to walk more.

What we receive from dogs in love and care comes back to us a hundredfold. Perhaps, if we want to get through the pandemic in better mental and physical health, it will not hurt to have a dog around. We also cannot forget how they can entertain us with their episodes of doggy silliness. Afterall, a good laugh occasionally is good for all of us.

The Heartland Dog Club has scheduled obedience trainings to begin on October 27th. Classes will be held at the Highlands County Shrine Club located at 2604 State Road 17 S, Avon Park, FL 33825. As classes normally fill up quickly, please call to add your name to the waiting list. For more information please call 863 – 368 – 1781.