Man. A dog’s best friend. There is more than one reason dogs are so popular as pets despite generally requiring more maintenance than a cat or a fish. True, cats do not bother anyone unless they want something from you, and fish generally are seen either giving you the fish eye or circling the toilet bowl. Dogs can be seen almost all the time and drinking from the toilet bowl from time to time. Their value goes beyond their immediate presence. They have a long term, positive effect on our lives, making everyone better.
Here are 20 ways dogs make humans better:
1. You can forget about any social anxiety with your furry friend at your side.
Though some say this is only a myth, there is video evidence of this reality. Dogs, as well as people, come in all shapes and sizes, so be careful which breed you choose to be your companion. It is rumored that a dog and their owner have similar facial features (but not temperaments). Your social anxiety level may actually increase when you are mismatched. Come to think about it, you may learn a lot about the dating process by going through the necessary steps in choosing the right dog. Just avoid comparing your significant companion with your desired significant other. Among the most sociable dog breeds are the collie, the golden retriever, the pug, and the beagle.
2. Stating the obvious, dogs are highly beneficial as service animals.
If you ever leave your home to go out and about with the common people, you are sure to run into someone who has a service dog. The most common function of a service dog is to guide visually impaired people. They make us better because we instinctively show respect for the dog and their owner, regardless of race, creed, color, or sexual orientation. Well, almost everyone. A second common type of service dog commonly recognized are those who use their sniffers to find bombs or drugs. Their handlers literally put their lives in their hands. Just wondering: how often do their sniffers get it wrong? Among the most trainable service dogs are the German shepherd, the Rottweiler, and the Saint Bernard.
3. They teach us to look for happiness in all the right places.
Rain or shine or gloom of night shall not keep a dog from finding a way to be happy. They aren’t perfect, but more often than not they show humans the right way to prioritize things in life. Make the most of what you have by appreciating where you’re at now. It’s a lesson we all can learn and directs us to look at the future instead of worrying about yesterday’s problems. It does not take much to make a dog happy. They do not need technology or keep up with world events. They have made their commitment and accept their decision. Some of the dog breeds that aim to please beyond your wildest expectations are the Bichon Frise, the reliable Labrador retriever, and the underrated Chihuahua.
4. They are drug-free mood enhancers.
There is more than enough scientific evidence that petting and generally connecting with dogs have a significant impact on our our moods in a positive way. Put down that pipe and that pie, and grab your dog. If you are in a grumpy or sad mood, they relate to you and show you everything will be OK at the end of the day. Here is a piece of journalistic evidence. If you still have doubts, visit an animal shelter or kennel. The visit will be a mood enhancer – and you will never be alone. Every dog breed will improve your mood, but some excel in this area. Consider the Irish Wolfhound, Old English Sheepdog, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (not just any spaniel), and again, the Labrador Retriever.
5. They teach us responsibility.
Anyone who has had a puppy as a child knows they require care and love. They need food and water on a daily basis, and then there is the pooper scooper time of day. It isn’t rocket science and it really does not take much time. No cooking or preparation time involved. Even when a dog is sad because we forgot to feed them or their water bowl is bone dry, we learn to find out what the problem is and fix it. Love is not separate from responsibility. There are days they will not be so fond of your mood but faithfully stick by you and deal with it. We all should take our responsibilities with this attitude. In case you were wondering, there is a Responsible Dog Ownership Day. When it comes to selecting a dog breed, intelligence is closely connected to their ability to be responsible and how easy it is to train them. The top dogs on the list are the German Shepherd, Shetland Sheepdog (also known as Shelties), and either the Golden or Labrador Retriever.
6. Winter weather is more tolerable with your canine companion.
When the colors of fall have faded and the prospect of snow and cold is just around the corner, there is no substitute for a warm and silent companion who can either keep your feet or your whole body warm in the coming months of a colder climate. If you live in an area that has four distinct seasons, the coming of colder days is not something we approach with gratitude. We may hate to go outside, either to work or to shovel the snow. Dogs find a way to appreciate all kinds of weather. The prospect of coming home to your canine companion changes the focus. They are ready to play regardless of the weather, and if it really too cold, they will be the first ones to head for the house. There are some dogs that are more likely to prefer the cold weather, such as Huskies and Alaskan Malamutes, both who have plenty of fur to keep you warm. Other than the more famous Huskies and Alaskan Malamutes, up for consideration are the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, Great Pyrenees, Akita, and Newfoundland. A word of warning: many of the cold weather dogs weigh 80 pounds and more, so budget your doggie food accordingly.
7. We learn to elevate our understanding of loyalty and commitment.
If there is something the world can always use more of, it is loyalty and commitment. Dogs lead by example in this area, and are the two reasons they are never likely to lose their number one spot as man’s best friend. There is no end to the number of examples of loyal dogs seen in the news or on the Internet. Personal relationships between people are significantly better with a dog as an arbiter. A study should be done on the divorce rate for couples who have a dog and those who do not. Loyalty can be measured in many ways, but here are some of the most consistent in the loyalty category: Yorkshire Terrier, Shetland Sheepdog, and German Shepherd.
8. They keep you fit and healthy.
Naturally. Doctors will tell you that the two keys to a healthy body and lifestyle are diet and exercise. This applies to people too. Your faithful friend will keep you active and healthy just by giving him or her their needed daily workout. Simply walking your dog is good cardiovascular exercise, and regardless of your age, getting outside will also improve your mood. There are people who clearly understand this reality. They also will help you to not overdo it. Work routines and daily chores can wear us out emotionally. Some dog owners know that a shake of the dog leash will have their pooch acting like they are on Puppy Uppers. It is the prospect of being able to go out and exercise that starts their motors going. Following their lead will definitely make us better – and healthier – people. The more active the dog (we aren’t using the word “hyper” here), the more active you will have to be to keep up. Most of these breeds you probably have never heard of: Belgian Malinois, German Shorthaired Pointer, Miniature Australian Shepherd, and German Shepherd.
9. They teach us not to argue or fight (too much).
If you have a significant other you have managed to be with for more than a few months, your dog will generally express dissatisfaction with any conflict or arguing between the two of you. This one of those things where they really aren’t interested in your opinion. Just stop it! And stop it now! They really are opposed to verbal conflict of any kind. A dog’s idea of fighting is that it is a course of last resort. Growling and fang bearing usually precedes the snapping. The axiom that a dog’s bark is worse than their bite does not really apply to dogs – only people. They can be considered to be experts at conflict resolution. Rather than creating distance, they will give you a powerful tail wag, usually followed by a physical expression of love. There is only one dog breed that will be mentioned here because of its uniqueness to a specific purpose. The Karelian Bear Dog is not common but exemplifies the use of conflict in dogs. They literally take on bears. But rather than engaging in direct fighting they just bark and dodge aggressive actions by the bear. The bear soon gives up out of pure frustration and leaves.
10. It is natural for them to be anti-depressants.
What we mean by “natural” is that the wet tongue licking your face and their happy demeanor remains, even when everything surrounding your life seems to be going wrong. There’s nothing like a wet tongue or cold nose to remind us that there is happiness to be found outside of our present circumstances. You will never see them taking any type of Doggie Downers. Puppies in particular are always looking to play, and what better anti-depressant is there than all play and zero worries? Unlike human relationships, a difference in age never gets in the way of happiness. Ending the sub-list of dog recommendations are dogs whose names will act as an anti-depressant: Labradoodle, Goldador, Coton de Tulear, and Samoyed (pronounced Sam-oy-ed, not like “annoyed).
11. American poet Emily Dickinson wrote in Hope Is the Thing with Feathers, “Dogs are better than human beings because they know but do not tell.”
Many of her poems were private writings, so there are few people who know this truth from personal experience. Her secrets were buried in her poetry, but once she became famous she was psychoanalyzed over and over by people who do not even know her. Who needs it? You can share all the sordid details of your life with your faithful friend and be assured your trust will never be misplaced. If you want extra security, there are dog breeds that have an added layer of genetic privacy protection.
12. The author of Brave New World, Aldous Huxley, had his own view on why dogs are so popular – “To his dog, every man is Napoleon; hence the constant popularity of dogs.”
Everyone wants to feel at one time or another that they would like to conquer the world. While that a reality is beyond the reach of most people, you dog can boost your ego and make you feel like a world beater. One way to know that your dog puts you at the top of the world is they will lay and sleep at your feet or next to you. Always a companion and there to serve. People unfortunately discover over time that their harshest critics are those who are closest to them on a personal level. This is definitely an anti-Napoleon approach to friendship.
13. Dogs help us to control our tendency for PDsA.
PDsA, more commonly known as Public Displays of Affection, are one of those relationship things that can be a source of annoyance and embarrassment – for one or both people. Public observers of excessive PDsA are more annoyed than the significant other. With that thought in mind, despite how much we may think it is romantic or affectionate, our loyal, furry friends often feel differently about it. But it is important to know they are not objecting to PDsA in general, just its overuse. They are being protective of your public reputation and the general public good.
14. They teach us patience.
Dogs seem to instinctively know that people aren’t perfect, and so we should extend that quality of patience to other humans. When a toddler sticks their finger in Fido’s eye, our patient friend does not bite the kid’s head off. They just look annoyed and get some distance. When we ignore them they wait for us to get over our fussiness. When we are running late, they wait. When out temper is short they retreat to a safe space, returning every now and then to see if the coast is clear. Dogs clearly have techniques to avoid conflict and exercise patience. It’s not that that they will not stand their ground, but they instinctively know when it is better to wait and let a situation develop.
15. A pre-puberty puppy presence reduces your children’s chance of developing pet allergies later in life.
There is scientific evidence of this, and it makes sense. The world is full of all kinds of germs and bacteria, so being exposed to them at an early age will help you develop immunities that are useful so we can enjoy life in our adult years. This also means you can be a dog owner for life without consequence. Unfortunately, there is a scientific movement going on to prove that a dog’s mouth is not as clean as its historical legend. It is important to pooh-pooh any evidence, and see doggie germs as an exchange of sorts to keep you living a longer and happier life.
16. Canines will get you to start your day on a happy note.
Adults and school age children have one thing in common: they hate getting up every morning and doing the morning routine. Cats exercise their right to meow you out of bed to get fed. Dogs seem to be oblivious to the unfortunate reality of the morning madness. Their first call to duty is for you to let them go and do their doody. But if you are harried they will patiently wait, cross their legs, and still be patient and happy. Most of us can’t say the same.
17. Author Phil Pastoret made an interesting observation:
“If you think dogs can’t count, try putting three dog biscuits in your pocket and then give him only two of them.” So at any age dogs can help us learn how to count. This is a useful skill, and they can remind us when we forget things because we fail to count properly. While there is no evidence that dogs, like people, actually like math, they obviously can excel at a basic level. They prefer to go out and play.
18. Dogs teach us about having a belief outside our own existence.
Abraham Lincoln wrote, “I care not for a man’s religion whose dog and cat are not the better for it.” So our behavior and moral success is tied to the betterment of our dog. This is called reciprocation. Having a dog in our life makes us better people, and by being better people we can be better dog owners. If you want to present evidence that you are a fine human being, take your dog out for a walk. People will immediately be able to see your kindness and love for animals. Love me, love my dog.
19. Another president, Dwight D. Eisenhower, had an observation about dogs that is much more famous:
“What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight; it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” Many people know this from personal experience, while others have taken it to heart and have become better people for it. We call it bravery or courage. This is a reflection of the story of David and Goliath, and is one of many American traits that are positively recognized by the society. This makes us culturally better because there are always problems we face that seem insurmountable. It is only our commitment to taking on the problem and fighting to achieve a solution that builds character.
20. The final presidential observation about dogs making people better is by Woodrow Wilson:
“If a dog will not come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” Maybe this is a bit too philosophical for some people, but the most important type of examination is self-examination. A dog tends to instinctively know whether you are a person of good moral character. Some people invite a date to their home to see whether or not their dog likes their new prospect. If you get the heave-ho after one encounter with their dog, it’s time for reflection. Even your own dog may look at you strangely when you are engaging in less than ethical behavior. They know. As it has been said 1,000 times, the eyes are the window to the soul. And yes, there is a science behind it.