We all need a purpose to live, whether we choose a traditional one or something completely unique to ourselves. However, the purpose generally changes with time and so does our role in society.
And what about dogs? Man’s best friends had always had their purpose in herding, hunting beside man, watching the flock, or guarding the house. But now that there’s no need for them to fulfill these roles in everyday city life, is there another purpose that still makes them indispensable to people?
Despite the fact that we don’t need dogs to protect us as much as we did when civil life was not as developed and that we didn’t have many alternatives to this problem, dogs are still unbelievably protective.
Dogs tend to make strong bonds with their human counterparts that reassert their pack drive. This makes them strongly protective of you and any other part of the pack, especially newborns. This helps us feel more secure and less scared.
But on the other hand, it does something greater – dogs help us face our fear. We tend to show more courage when we are not alone. And even when we are not really in danger, knowing that we have a friend by our side will make us walk more freely, releasing us from possible fears.
Touch is the most basic human need. A famous study conducted by Harry Harlow showed how much a lack of tactile communication and comfort can be detrimental to one’s mental health, sense of comfort, and overall love. Monkeys would rather have a surrogate mother that they could hug than the one that could provide them with food, even though they were hungry.
More so than other pets, dogs adore being tactile, playing, and snuggling. They will naturally come to you as they are open and more importantly, emphatic. Having someone eager to engage in physical contact with you can bring more positive change in your mental state than you might consciously perceive.
Touch can lower blood pressure and decrease harmful cortisol production which is responsible for stress. This makes the power of touch a miracle-worker for stress. It also increases serotonin and dopamine, the so-called “feel good” hormones, which can raise energy levels we need to stay motivated and functional throughout the day.
Having to put your thoughts aside and concentrate on someone or something else is an effective way of staving off anxiety. However, it will only relieve you temporarily of stress, and in the worst case scenario, make you avoidant.
But on the other hand, dogs do not only require attention but action and interaction as well. You will not be idle, and more importantly, you will have to make decisions and take action in their best interest.
Since the part of the brain that produces anxiety actually serves as a one-task completion manager, which means that every time we don’t make decisions and take action but rather doubt, avoid, and rest undecided, we panic. This is why assertiveness, purpose, and anxiety are actually correlated.
It is said that dog owners are healthier people. This is somewhat due to less stress and more feelings of being loved and happy, but it is also due to the daily physical activity we need to do when taking our dog for a walk.
And since this soon becomes our habit too, we must get out and walk, which can itself alone boost our serotonin levels. But it also makes us want this feeling more, which canresult in cardio exercises and running with our dog daily.
Only a 10-minute walk can make significant changes to your mood, stress levels, and health. Exercise such as walking or running, and generally anything that makes you break a sweat, releases endorphins, the “feel-good” chemicals in the brain, which can ease depression, boost metabolism, improve concentration, and attention span. preserve the health of existing neurons and create new ones.
It’s no wonder that dogs have become indispensable when it comes to emotional support and service. They are not only easily trained to do tasks their owners can’t, but they also share a great deal of empathy, making them healing in times of distress.
They know how to read our facial expressions and tone of voice and even tend to mirror their owner’s emotions. But they have an instant reaction to our distress and offer support and comfort deliberately.
We now know that loneliness has both mental and physical effect on your health, increasing nervous system activity, inflammation, and decreasing sleep, all of which expedite cardiovascular aging. Support is something truly important for every human being, thefeeling of being understood and cared about, and dogs cater to this need quite well.
Owning a dog may greatly improve our well-being but unfortunately, many of us find that, apart from being a big responsibility, having a dog is also very expensive. There are, however, calculators to help you figure out the cost of owning a dog. These can help you prepare and see if that’s something you can manage.
But extra expenditure is something future parents already have in mind. And even though they might not be alone and in need of such support, dogs are incredibly beneficial to a child’s growth and even helpful to parents. Dogs are just as much a lifelong friend to individuals as they are to families.