There are cat people and there are dog people. I don’t generally like to lump myself in with one group (I grew up with three cats), but I can recognise the vast benefits of owning a dog over a litter-trained furball. Here are few.
1. Dogs make you laugh.
A pilot study of 95 people found that dog owners laughed significantly more frequently than cat owners. Cats might even be a drag — even participants without pets reported laughing more than those who just owned cats.
2. Dogs help you make friends.
“Pet dogs can act as catalysts for human social interactions, and it has been suggested this may enhance feelings of well-being,” according to one study, which found that strolling around with a dog led to more interactions, especially with strangers, than when waking solo.
“When I’m outside with my dog, I always meet new people and chat with them,” one respondent said in a survey of 23 elderly dog owners who were single.
Coerce a cat to go for a walk? I don’t think so.
3. A dog’s sense of smell can be useful.
University of Pennsylvania researchers are currently training Golden Retrievers and German Shepards how to sniff out ovarian cancer.
4. Dogs are technologically-advanced.
While most cats are busy batting crumpled tissues around the house, some tech-savvy dogs are learning how to recognise and respond to written commands on an iPad, like “sit” or “whirly,” as well as mastering the art of taking selfies. A London-based company called City Dog offers sessions to train your dog how to take flattering photos of himself by swiping his nose over the screen.
5. Dogs keep us fit.
Dogs need walks — which also encourages the owner to walk. Walking is a great form of exercise. “Older people with dogs are covering an average daily distance of approximately 0.95 miles,” one study found.
A separate 5-year-study of nearly 2,000 people in Perth, Australia, noted that “dog walking has the potential to increase physical activity in a large proportion of the community.”
6. Dogs are real-life heroes.
Dogs are known for their discerning noses, which can be used to sniff out bombs, find missing persons, or track down criminals. Basically, dog are four-legged crime fighters.
7. Dogs have a sixth sense.
So-called “seizure-alert dogs” have the innate ability to detect if someone is about have a seizure. The dog will warn the victim using “attention-getting behaviours such as whining, pawing, or anxious barking” anywhere from “15 to 12 hours before the attack,” according to National Geographic. The dogs can even be trained to hit a button on the phone that calls 911. Try getting your cat to use speed dial.
8. Dogs help save endangered animals.
Dogs are saving the world, one whale at a time. A black lab mix named Tucker, for example, has been trained to help scientists track killer whales by sniffing for their poop. By studying the whale feces, researchers can see how pollution is affecting certain whale populations.
9. Dogs may prevent people from developing allergies and asthma.
Children exposed to “dog dust” may be at a lower risk for developing allergies and asthma later on in life, based on a study in mice. Dog dust seems to contain microbes that influences the number of immune cells in the animal’s airway that respond to allergens.
10. Dogs are loyal.
11. Dogs make life worth living, even when we get old.
Getting old is tough. After retirement, elderly people may feel like their everyday lives lack structure. Dogs, which require a fixed time for meals and walks, can help bridge that gap and provide a sense of purpose. “Dogs give a certain meaning to their lives, since the task of caring for a dog also means a great responsibility,” a 2011 review noted.
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