If you have a pet, you’re probably well aware of how much its presence improves the quality of your life. But did you know there are numerous studies that have proven just how much pet owners are benefiting from that relationship? There are many ways that your pet makes you a better person.
Better social skills
Prison inmates who care for animals tend to have better social skills and less violent behavior. A 2006 study conducted by Kansas State University’s Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work found that pet programs have the potential to “break down barriers of fear and mistrust between staff and inmates.”
They believe pets also help to reduce stress and behavior infractions within prison and on the outside.
Coping better with bad times
Pets have been shown to provide hope when times are tough. Psychologist and spokesperson for Adopt-a-Pet, Pia Salk, told Prevention magazine, “When we are at our worst, it’s often because we feel helpless.
Our animal companions remind us of our ability to make a positive impact on the life of another—and that’s therapeutic. The unconditional acceptance of a pet can mediate the corrosive effects of stress over time. It can inoculate us by providing the reserve needed for emotional resilience.”
We feel more relaxed when we’re around a pet. To feel even more significant relaxation effects, try matching your breathing rate to your pet’s – of course, not after you’ve just gone for a run, enjoyed a game of catch or chased the string together. Whispering your worries to him (or her) can also help.
Pets help us to love ourselves
Pets can help increase our self-esteem and instill a greater sense of self-worth. Psychologist Alan Entin says pets can even help people who suffer from mild depression by offering their unconditional love. A 2011 study out of Miami University found that dog owners not only had higher self-esteem and were less depressed, they were less lonely, happier and tended to experience less perceived stress.
Better social life
Not only will you be more likely to have good social skills, if you have a pet, you’ll be more apt to talk to random people on the street, which often results in a much more active social life.
You’ll be more fit
Dogs especially, have the added benefit of needing to be walked and played with throughout the day, which means most dog owners are getting the recommended minimum of 30 minutes of exercise a day, keeping them in better overall shape as well as lowering the risk of heart disease than people without pets.
If you have a pet, odds are, you can immediately come up with a number of things he does to make you laugh. Just talking about your pet’s antics can bring a lot of laughs into our stressful lives. And, you’ve got to admit, it’s hard to be grumpy in the morning when you’ve got your pet licking your face.
A better life and a longer life
Not only are you more likely to enjoy a better life, odds are, you’ll enjoy a longer life too. With the health benefits that you may realize from having a pet, you are more like to have lower blood pressure thereby reducing your risk of heart disease – resulting in a longer lifespan.
If you don’t have a pet, you now have eight more reasons to change that.