Dog owners are happier than those without a four-legged friend: study
Those who have a dog have 69% more “meaningful” interactions — individual interactions that improve their overall mood — per month than those who don’t have a pet.
The study of 2,004 adults also found that dog owners benefited from simply walking their canine companion, as 31% felt less lonely when walking their pet.
But that’s not where the benefits of having a dog end – four-legged friends also have a huge positive impact on people with disabilities.
Owners of disabled dogs have almost four times as many meaningful conversations per month as people with disabilities without a dog – 11 versus three interactions.
Additionally, 81% of disabled dog owners attributed their social interactions and connections to their dog.
The study was commissioned by More Insurance and UK Charity Dogs for Good to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week (May 9-15), which focuses on loneliness.
The insurance provider and charity have joined forces with TV presenter, Lorraine Kelly, and her border terrier, Angus, to highlight the positive impact dogs have on combating loneliness.
In one video, Lorraine takes viewers on her favorite dog walk, capturing how many people stopped, smiled and chatted with her and her beloved pooch.
Lorraine said: ‘My dog has been instrumental in improving my mental health and just walking Angus is great exercise, it helps me mentally and it means I meet a lot of people on our walks .
“I didn’t know many people when I first left Scotland, but hanging out with Angus was the best way to make friends in my new home.
“Dogs really are such a precious part of so many of our lives, and the work of Dogs for Good is clearly making a huge difference for many people with disabilities.”
The study also found that 52% of disabled dog owners developed deeper, longer-lasting friendships with someone they met on a walk.
While only five percent of adults with disabilities who don’t own a dog have established similar relationships.
Another four in five disabled dog owners said interacting with new people helps relieve feelings of isolation and loneliness.
And 81% find it easier to meet new people when accompanied by their dog.
By comparison, 50% of non-dog owners said they rarely interacted with new people, according to OnePoll research.
James Loder, director of MORE THAN insurance, said: “The physical and mental benefits of owning a dog speak for themselves.
“Dog owners have more opportunities for social interaction and our research shows that we also form far more meaningful bonds through our four-legged friends.
“We want to highlight our relationship with dogs.
“So that more people can benefit, especially people with disabilities whose lives can be impacted even more by building a strong relationship with dogs and fully harnessing the benefits they can bring.”
“It’s something that Dogs for Good helps, providing people with disabilities and families with service dogs and expert advice, and we’re proud to support them.”
Peter Gorbing, CEO of Dogs for Good, added: “We know how difficult it can be for some people to have regular social interaction, particularly people with disabilities who may be more susceptible to social isolation.
“Owning a dog presents opportunities for social interactions that have long-term positive benefits on owners’ lives – both physically and mentally.
“Our work aims to support people with disabilities to live more independently at home, enabling them to play an active role in their wider community if they wish.
“Creating opportunities for greater social interaction is an important part of this process – and what better way to do that than by having a four-legged friend by your side.”
If you’re a dog owner, Dogs for Good wants to know about your own social interactions when walking your canine friend. Go to dogs for good to share yours.
This story originally appeared on the sun and has been reproduced here with permission.