Continuous research into dog behaviour and intelligence is delivering some astonishing insights into the hidden talents of our mutts…..
In Europe it is estimated that seventy five million households have at least one pet. Research indicates several reasons for this high level of pet ownership, including:
• The decline of the traditional nuclear family with older people and unmarried adults often living alone, especially in cities
• More people are choosing not to have children, or to have less children (maybe choosing to be a pet parent instead)
• People have fewer close relatives nearby that they can rely on for support
• The need for a sense of security provided by the presence of a watchdog
• In recent years there is evidence that pets contribute to human well-being both physical and psychological. Pet ownership is increasingly being shown to be healthy for humans.
We love our pets, and dog ownership in particular can be a very rewarding experience. Despite visits to the vet, the regular walks and the expense associated with caring for our canine friends, we soldier on.
But why? What is it about owning a dog that benefits the owner? Sure, they’re great company, and they can get us up in the morning for the obligatory stroll. But the health benefits of owning a dog can go way beyond a morning walk.
Research indicates that dog owners:
• can expect a five-fold increase in survival rates after a heart attack
• experience longer life expectancy after hospitalisation due to heart problems
• can experience fewer cardiac complaints
Further benefits of dog ownership can include:
• lower cholesterol
• decreased stress levels
• reduced blood pressure
• fewer minor health problems
The intelligence and caring nature of assistance dogs change the lives of those with disabilities.
Nursing homes who have involved companion animals in patient therapy have reported a decrease in their running expenses, including fewer prescription costs.
Doctors who have examined children with a dog present have reported lower patient stress levels and decreased heart rate and blood pressure, compared to examinations where no dog was present.
Dogs are also proving themselves in illness-specific areas, and on-going research is being carried out to verify (believe it or not!) their detection and assistance capabilities with illnesses such as Parkinson’s Disease, seizures, hypoglycemia and cancer.
We give a lot to our four-legged friends, but with the advancement of research and understanding in animal behavior we’re beginning to realize that they’re more than earning their keep!