Dogs as the Most Beneficial Pets

Benefits of Dogs as Pets

Dogs have a significant responsibility in most people’s life. Duvall and Pychyl (2014) claim that besides rearing dogs for security purposes, some people use dogs to assist their loved ones to recover from different illnesses. Indeed, dogs help in speech and occupational therapy. Presently, many households own dogs. Research shows that people who keep dogs lead a healthier life. Dogs encourage people to engage in physical activities.

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Understanding the significance of canines can go a long way towards enhancing people’s lives. According to Barker and Wolen (2016), dogs serve as a mood booster for both adults and children. A study carried out on children aged between three and six years found that exposure to dogs minimizes the chances of the kids suffering from anxiety. Dogs help kids who do not have siblings to develop high self-esteem, become physically and socially active, and develop empathy.

Additionally, the research found that dogs contribute to boosting the moods of adults, therefore minimizing the chances of them suffering from stress. Apart from serving as companions and mood boosters, dogs also create social opportunities for their owners. As people stroll with dogs, they get a chance to meet and interact with their neighbors. Research shows that dogs have immense benefits to their owners. They offer not only companionship but also enhance mood and create social opportunities. This paper will discuss the benefits of rearing dogs.

Dogs as Companions

Barker and Barker (2005) maintain, “Among the array of different species that serve as companion animals, dogs are in many ways exceptional” (p. 48). A study conducted on children found that there was a strong connection between kids and dogs. The children claimed that dogs offered them personalized consideration. The use of phrases like “guards me”, is good to me”, and “follows me” signified the companionship that existed between kids and dogs.

A majority of the people cite dogs as their most preferred pets. Research shows that many individuals feel more attracted to dogs than other pets. Besides, canines seem to be more skillful in offering friendly and psychologically helpful functions than other pets. Barker and Barker (2005) posited that dogs relate with their owners in ways that lead to a high degree of affection. Some people say that they find it easier to express love to dogs than to relatives (Barker & Barker, 2005).

Dogs show unconditional affection to people regardless of their status, physical appearance, or success. Mostly, dogs are emotionally affected whenever their masters are in problems. For instance, some dogs develop gastric upset, diarrhea, or even epileptic convulsions whenever the masters are distressed. Such a close attachment leads to people confiding in dogs. They develop an unconditional attachment to dogs.

Barker and Barker (2005) contend that dogs are the only companions who bear with people’s frustrations. Individuals can easily vent their frustration at the dogs without ruining the attachment. The dog will always be pleased to see its master regardless of the situation. On the other hand, family members may express their displeasure, particularly after confrontations. According to Barker and Barker (2005), dogs offer unreserved love and approval to their owners. They make people feel valued. Human-dog companionship is high as dogs stick to the owners at all times. The dogs tend to stay lively during the day when people are busy. They motivate their masters and encourage them to continue to work. With relevant training, dogs serve as dependable social partners to human beings.

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Numerous characteristics make dogs superlatively fitting to be human buddies. The dogs have an exceptional command of nonverbal communication through which they express affection and respect to their masters. Many people claim that they are attached to dogs because they do not communicate, and cannot offer criticism, judgment, or advice. They allege that dogs are empathic and loving. Further, their friendship is always dependable, genuine, and trustworthy.

The dog companionship is devoid of multiple risks attributed to the human association (Serpell, 2003). A lot of people claim that they prefer dogs as companions since they offer an avenue for playfulness. A majority of individuals who stroll with dogs engage in a variety of games with the canines. Dogs provide significant companionship to kids and adults since they respond to commands and provide credulous empathy. According to Serpell (2003), dogs act as companions to children who are venturing away from the parents. The kids rely on dogs for comfort, particularly when they are sad, lonely, or bored. They no longer require the help of the parents as they feel comfortable when with the dogs.

According to Friedman and Son (2013), dogs serve as great companions amid the widows, families that do not have children as well as individuals who live alone. Friedman and Son (2013) claimed, “Single, divorced, widowed people and childless couples who are most attached to dogs express a more anthropomorphic attitude to the canines” (p. 295). There exists an indiscernible cord that ties a dog to its master. Many people claim that they favor dogs because they pay attention to their feelings. Childless couples relate often and readily with canines. On the other hand, a majority of the widows claim that dogs help them to meet most of their social needs.

A family association cannot satisfy all the social needs of divorced, separated, or widowed people. As a result, dogs play a significant role as companions to these individuals. The dogs not only serve as reliable friends but also make them feel secure. Some childless couples claim that dogs help them forget about the absence of a child in the family. Additionally, they offer them an opportunity to engage in physical activities, thus dispelling the desire for a child. A study conducted on elderly, married couples signified the dangers of not being attached to a dog. A majority of the women who did not relate to their dogs claimed that they felt sad. Besides, the women claimed that they were unable to connect with people (Friedman & Son, 2013).

Improved Mood

Scientists claim that owning a dog facilitates child development, minimizes emotional stress, and enhances psychological well-being. Not many studies have focused on the impacts of dogs on people’s mood. All the same, many scientists hold that human-dog interaction has beneficial effects on the mood of a person. Barker and Wolen (2016) maintain that dogs help to improve the mood of a person in stressful circumstances.

The National Institute of Mental Health cites dog ownership as a suitable approach to treating depression and boosting one’s mood. Barker and Wolen (2016) argue, “Being around dogs appears to feed the soul and promote a sense of emotional connectedness and overall well-being” (p. 489). Scientists have recommended physical activity as a measure to improve one’s mood. A dog keeps its master active at all times.

As a result, a person stays engaged at all times, which minimizes the chances of suffering from anxiety and other mood-related disorders. As mentioned earlier, a dog serves as a cohort to human beings. Consequently, one does not feel isolated or introverted. Barker and Wolen (2016) allege that staying close to a dog for a short duration makes one feel relaxed.

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Dogs lead to one’s body undergoing a physical transformation that improves the mood. Scientists claim that interacting with a dog lowers the level of cortisol, which is a hormone that causes anxiety. Additionally, it enhances the secretion of serotonin, therefore boosting the psychological well-being of an individual. Handlin et al. (2011) claimed that dogs invoke laughter, encourage physical exercise, and increase social interaction.

Sadness and lack of social interaction are some of the factors that lead to depression, anxiety, and other psychological disorders. Handlin et al. (2011) claimed that having a dog can enhance a person’s emotions, health, and social skills. A person exhibits positive feelings like friendliness, stillness, and cheerfulness. A study carried out by the University of Virginia also found that man-dog companionship lowers the level of cortisol that causes anxiety and bad mood. The study concluded that simple actions like patting or cuddling a dog increase the degree of oxytocin in the body, thus minimizing stress. Additionally, the actions prevent particular parts of the brain from reacting to threat signs that might impact the mood of an individual.

Owning a dog comes with numerous responsibilities. Scientists claim that responsibility supports mental health. According to psychologists, assuming the responsibility for a particular task helps to enhance self-esteem. One is required not only to feed the dog but also to love and take care of it. Duvall and Pychyl (2014) claim that keeping a dog helps to improve mood as it forces one to discard thoughts that make him/her sad.

A person has to engage in activities that can keep the dog happy. In the process, one discards the habits that lead to self-pity and begins to see life from a different angle. The amusing and bubbly character of a dog helps to improve mood. Depression drains the urge to engage in activities that motivate people. Duvall and Pychyl (2014) posit that a dog’s character is different. Dogs are always happy no matter the circumstance. They like to play, socialize, take a stroll, and have as much fun as they can. Such a character is contagious and no one can resist it.

According to Duvall and Pychyl (2014), people cannot resist smiling at a happy dog no matter the situation. Dogs make a person create a program for the day. They help to enhance confidence, self-control and create a sense of purpose, therefore easing the severe impacts of anxiety. Dogs are a great source of consolation. They help to fritter away negative feelings such as disappointment, anger, and grief.

A majority of people who own dogs communicate with them and use them to navigate challenges or conflicts. Dogs make people feel important, thus boosting their mood. As per Duvall and Pychyl (2014), dogs depend on people for survival. They cannot play or exercise without the assistance of a human being. A person feels valued and appreciated whenever he/she knows that there is someone or something that depends on him/her.

Duvall and Pychyl (2014) assert that dogs serve as an outlet for people to vent their anger. Many times, people are unable to express their frustrations to friends or relatives. They are afraid of being misunderstood. A dog helps to improve a person’s mood by serving as a silent listener to his/her concerns. Rather than keeping worries to oneself, a dog is always there to listen to what is bothering its master. A good thing with a dog is that it cannot judge you for being self-centered in your complaints. Even though a canine may not offer a piece of advice, its presence helps to relieve a person of his/her worries.

Dogs serve as distractions when one is in a bad mood. Duvall and Pychyl (2014) claim, “Dogs take us out of our heads into another reality that only involves food, water, affection, and maybe an animal but” (p. 461). Scientists cite distraction as an effective remedy to a bad mood. It allows a person to recall the good times that he/she has with the dog, thus forgetting whatever makes him/her sad. Research shows that dogs promote touch, which contributes to improving mood. Touch has immense healing power.

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Social Opportunities

Hart, Hart, and Bergin (2006) maintain that the assumption that dogs offer social opportunities to their masters is self-evident. A study conducted in Sweden found that dogs facilitate communication between people. Moreover, they enable people to make new friends. Hart et al. (2006) argue, “The practical outcome of pet ownership, particularly dogs, is to increase the owner’s extraversion and promote social interactions both at home and within the community” (p. 42). Research conducted in London parks found that many people who were in the company of dogs communicated with strangers.

According to Hart et al. (2006), the social significance of a canine is substantially palpable amid people who use wheelchairs. Studies have shown that service dogs improve the social approval and attractiveness of the physically challenged. A majority of the disabled who rely on service dogs claim that adults treat them well whenever they go out shopping. Besides, the physically challenged argue that they receive an unprompted response from unknown persons whenever they are with dogs. Moreover, a study of disabled children found that the kids enjoyed social acceptance whenever they were in the company of service dogs. According to Hart et al. (2006), a dog stabilizes social reactions to people who frequently would be evaded or disregarded due to timidity, disability, or physical repulsiveness.

According to Guttman, Predovic, and Zemanek (2004), children learn numerous details of social relationships by playing and talking to dogs. A study conducted in Germany found that children who played and spoke to dogs were capable of deciphering human, nonverbal facial lexis (Guttman et al., 2004). The study found that boys who played with dogs could easily interpret human facial expressions.

The capacity to understand facial expression was associated with remarkable social acceptance. Many people opted to confide in dog owners. Besides, a lot of people chose to associate and partner with dog owners. As per Guttman et al. (2004), children who owned dogs were eager to make new friends. Most children admitted that the dogs helped them to make new friends. Foster children encounter challenges in socialization as they do not enjoy a protected position in the family like other kids. Foster parents allege that the kids gain social advantages by keeping dogs. Dogs make them go out and meet with other kids. They aid to eliminate social barriers and enhance communication in foster children. Besides, the kids stop fearing people.

Most studies that have examined the remedial function of a resident or visiting canine in a health care environment overlooked the social benefits of dogs to both the patient and health care workers. Research carried out in Australia found that dogs enhanced interaction with patients. Before the introduction of a resident dog, many patients preferred to stay isolated (Hogarth-Scott, Salmon & Lavelle, 2007).

The patients claimed that the introduction of a canine made them have something to discuss. Hogarth-Scott et al. (2007) maintained that dogs benefit not only the patients but also health care personnel. The study conducted in Australia found that the introduction of visiting or resident dogs promoted interaction among the medical staff. The medical staff got attracted to the dogs such that they enhanced the dyadic relations among themselves.

Hogarth-Scott et al. (2007) carried out research to determine the nature of discussions amid aged patients during dog visits to elderly facilities. They found that dogs improved the rate of communication among the aged patients. Some patients narrated their encounters with dogs. Others talked about their lost canines. Hogarth-Scott et al. (2007) concluded that the dog visits created an environment that temporarily created a connection amid the patients. The appreciation of the role of dogs in creating social opportunities has led to the geriatric facilities using canines to link the communication gap amid the nurses and aged patients. The introduction of dogs in geriatric facilities has helped to enhance the treatment accorded to elderly patients.

Previously, scholars portrayed dogs as a link between human beings and the natural world. Presently, dogs are regarded as a social link between people. For many years, scholars have paid attention to dogs as companions of humans. They never considered dogs as avenues to numerous types of human social relatedness. Wood et al. (2015) argue that dogs do not only assist people to know each other but also create friendship and offer social support.

Humans are social beings. Nevertheless, the fast-paced and dividing state of contemporary life tends to reduce the ability of human-to-human interaction. A majority of the dog owners have an opportunity to know most people who reside in the neighborhood (Wood et al., 2015). Many people claim that they meet their neighbors as they stroll with dogs. Wood et al. (2015) claim, “Dogs, are ‘ice-breakers’ and catalysts for social interaction or conversation between strangers” (p. 12). Mostly, aliens tend to ignore one another politely in public environments. However, the presence of a dog encourages communication between strangers. Many times, dog-facilitated social interaction grows into a lasting friendship.

Studies carried out in the United States and Australia showed that dogs help their masters to obtain social support from their neighbors. In the United States, dog owners claimed that they get assistance with mail collection from neighbors they knew through their dogs. Many Americans claimed that they received informational support from people they met through their dogs (Wood et al., 2015). Besides, many dog owners claimed that through the canines, they met individuals they can rely on for social assistance. On the other hand, the Australians argued that, through their dogs, they met people they could rely on for emotional support. Many Australians claimed that the canines helped them to meet people they could confide in whenever they have problems.

Conclusion

Dogs are the most valuable pet to own. They not only offer companionship but also improve mood and provide social opportunities to owners. Many people feel more attracted to dogs than other pets. People choose dogs as companions because they offer unconditional love. Unlike human beings, dogs do not discriminate against individuals based on their social status or physical appearance. Dogs are a great source of companionship to widowed, divorced as well as families without children.

Scientists allege that dog ownership minimizes emotional stress and improves the psychological well-being of individuals. Dogs keep the owners active, therefore enhancing their mood. Researchers argue that human-dog interaction lowers the level of cortisol, which makes people be in bad mood. Additionally, it improves the release of serotonin that triggers happiness. Dog ownership comes with responsibilities that help to boost self-esteem. A dog owner feels important to know that there is something that appreciates his/her existence.

Dogs are a source of consolation to the owners. They help people to dissipate bad feelings and focus on things that make them happy. Dogs force people to participate in physical exercise, which serves as a distraction. Research shows that dogs offer social opportunities to owners. They facilitate communication between strangers. Moreover, many people claim that dogs help them to know their neighbors. Dogs are of great help to the disabled.

The physically challenged receive voluntary help from strangers whenever they are with dogs. Foster children have a problem with socialization. However, owning a dog helps them to interact with people. Dogs have social benefits to aged patients as well as health workers. They enhance cooperation and communication among the patients and medical personnel. Many dog owners claim that the canines help them to meet people they can rely on for social support.

References

Barker, S., & Barker, R. (2005). The human-canine bond: Closer than family ties? Journal of Mental Health Counseling, 10(2), 46-56.

Barker, S., & Wolen, A. (2016). The benefits of human-companion animal interaction: A review. Journal of Veterinary Medical Education, 43(1), 487-495.

Duvall, N., & Pychyl, T. (2014). An examination of the possible benefits for well-being arising from social interactions that occur while dog walking. Society & Animals, 22(1), 459-480.

Friedman, E., & Son, H. (2013). The human-companion animal bond: How humans benefit. Veterinary Clinics of North America: Small Animal Practice, 39(2), 293-326.

Guttmann, G., Predovic, M., & Zemanek, M. (2004). The influence of pet ownership on non-verbal communication and social competence in children: The human-pet relationship. Vienna: IEMT.

Handlin, L., Hydbring-Sandberg, E., Nilsson, A., Ejdeback, M., Jansson, A., & Uvnas-Moberg, K. (2011). Short-term interaction between dogs and their owners: Effects on oxytocin, cortisol, insulin and heart rate – An exploratory study. Anthrozoos: A Multidisciplinary Journal of the Interactions of People and Animals, 24(3), 3.1-315.

Hart, L., Hart, B., & Bergin, B. (2006). Socializing effects of service dogs for people with disabilities. Anthrozoos, 1(1), 41-44.

Hogarth-Scott, S., Salmon, I., & Lavelle, R. (2007). A dog in residence. People-Animals-Environment, 1(1), 4-6.

Serpell, J. (2003). In the company of animals. New York: Blackwell.

Wood, L., Martin, K., Christian, H., Nathan, A., Lauritsen, C., Houghton, S., Kawachi, I., & McCune, S. (2015). The pet factor- Companion animals as a conduit for getting to know people, friendship formation and social support. PLoS ONE, 10(4), 1-17.

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