‘Dog Person’ Is an Understatement

I’ll start off by saying this: I am that person. The person who will always stop when passing a dog to talk to it and pet it (after asking!). The person who prefers to be around dogs more than people. The person who tells her husband at least five times a day, “I wasn’t talking to you; I was talking to the dog.” The person who remembers the names of the neighborhood dogs but struggles to remember people’s names. The person who should be wearing the shirt that says: Sorry I’m late, but I saw a dog. 

That’s me. With all that said, I can’t even pretend to be objective about all the evidence that supports the connection between interacting with dogs and improved moods and mental health. 

Recently, there’s been a strong focus on research supporting that link by the National Institute of Health, the National Center for Health Research, and countless other sources. Some points I found particularly interesting:

  • Pets can improve heart health by lowering blood pressure and regulating the heart rate during stressful situations.
  • Interaction with animals has been shown to decrease levels of cortisol, boost mood, and reduce loneliness.
  • Pets can teach empathy and the principle of sharing to children who don’t have siblings.

For me, the kicker is the ability our pets have to ease stress and remind us to be present. For someone like myself who struggles with anxiety, a dog really is the best medicine.

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