I’ve been a dog owner for about 10 years. Shadow, a funny looking basset hound/black lab mix, was my first dog. Then came Bella, the craziest, most adorable boxer I’ve ever seen. Doug came a year after Bella. He’s … well, he’s special. He’s very shy and afraid of just about everything, but if you let him loose at the dog park, he’s perfectly happy.
As a dog owner and a gym member for some time, I have first-hand knowledge of both – benefits of having a dog and exercising at the gym. While getting a gym membership has its benefits, I feel experiencing the unconditional love of a dog is a far superior alternative.
4 Great Benefits of Having a Dog
1. Exercise for Free
One of the greatest benefits of having a dog. Running outside with your dog costs you nothing, while getting a gym membership can cost you anywhere from $30 to $70 a month. Dogs need to exercise at least once a day (more often if over 30 lbs.) and will appreciate their time outside. From my experience, it’s always nice to get outside after a long day at work. So, you’ll probably enjoy it just as much as your dog will! Plus, you bank account won’t suffer one bit.
2. Great Way to Socialize
You can socialize with lots of people at the gym, but it is your workout time after all. Do you really want to make a first impression on someone when you’re sweaty, tired, and most likely a little stinky? On the other hand, the dog park is a great way to meet new people. If you’ve ever talked to someone about their dog, they probably went on and on, telling you more than you ever wanted to know about little Poochie. Well, that’s pretty much how it is at the dog park – everyone telling funny stories about things their dog has done. It has been scientifically proven that we have a greater sense of ease and social functioning when animals are present. Scientists call this “social lubricant.”
3. Dogs Cater To Your Emotions
Dogs seem to know when you are sad, and they’re always there to offer unconditional love. Talking out loud to your dog about your grief can do wonders since they will listen uninterrupted and without judgment. This may feel silly at first, but don’t worry, your dog will never get tired of hearing your voice. However, it is obvious that your dog cannot provide you with feedback. So, if you’re suffering from symptoms of depression or any other mood disorder, you should consult a mental health doctor in your area.
4. Mental Health Benefits On Top of Physical Health Benefits
Not only do you get physical health benefits of having a dog, through exercising, you also get proven mental health benefits of having a dog! Some of these mental health benefits of having a dog include: reduced anxiety, reduced stress, and in certain cases, decreased awareness of pain. Owning a dog can also help fight depression. You are more likely to get out and interact with the world when you have someone depending on you for their exercise. This helps bring purpose to your life because you are obligated to care for your dog.
You’ll probably feel great after leaving the gym, but, those endorphins are unlikely to beat the feeling you’ll receive upon returning home to be greeted by a wagging tail and endless kisses! Dogs love us for who we are, which is why they make such great companions. And, it’s easy for us to love them back because of it!
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