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Man's Best Friend: how owning a dog is good for us and society

Man's Best Friend: how owning a dog is good for us and society

Any dog owner knows how hard it becomes to live without the utter and consistent devotion dogs give us every day.It's most definitely a relationship that goes two ways. We may keep them alive feeding and providing them with a home, but they also take care of us. There is a large body of research that demonstrates how owning a dog benefits our mental and physical well-being.

Walking the dog

Walking our dogs helps us stay much more active than those poor people who don't have a dog to walk - even though it does sometimes seem like such a nuisance. In one 2006 Canadian study, dog owners were found to walk an average of five hours a week, compared with people who didn't own a dog, who walked just 2.8 hours a week on average.In another recent study, by researchers at Tufts University's Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, it was discovered that those people who had strong attachments to their dogs also reported powerful connections to their relationships and even their communities.Our dogs can even detect when we are ill and some have been trained to alert the world to the fact we have cancers.

Warnings of danger

Indeed, one eight-year-old black Labrador, called Marine, who is specially-trained to detect cancer, can identify a sufferer 91% of the time by sniffing a person's breath.
That's not all. Dogs can also warn us not to eat those things to which we may be allergic.Florida Canine Academy-trained puppies can detect even the slightest smell of peanut in a room. They can also identify peanuts in a cookie or in a chocolate bar wrapped in a lunch bag.If that is not enough to prove a dog's worth, there is also research that indicates just looking at our dogs make us happier.In 2009 Miho Nagasawa of Japan's Azabu University discovered that our levels of the neurohormone which elicits happy feelings is increased intensely after we looked into our dogs eyes.

Help in recovery

Not only that, but our dogs calm us down in circumstances of high-stress. In a series of tests at the University of Buffalo, it was shown that dogs help reduce people's everyday stress.  They also help us recover psychologically from crises and have been shown to help soldiers recover from post-traumatic stress disorder. One army veteran, who was so traumatized from his experience in Baghdad he couldn't hug his kids. Found that after six weeks with a golden retriever, he felt more comfortable with his family.

Our dogs' capacity to heal is seemingly endless. In a 2010 study it was found that kids allergic to dogs who lived with one during the first year of their life had a reduced risk of developing the skin condition eczema.

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