Cindy LaquidaraTaking care of a pet can be a challenging and demanding task. Animals are liable to act impulsively, and not necessarily in the ways we would prefer. However, loving your pet, especially a dog, is such a deeply rewarding experience that it continues to be a major component of many Americans lifestyles. There are a number of ways owning a dog improves your life. Here are just four examples:

Smash Stress

Dogs empower their owners to better handle stress on a daily basis. Dogs are able to sense the smallest changes in your demeanor and general energy. They then tend to respond accordingly. If your dog sense you are stressed, he or she is liable to wag their tail and snap you out of whatever troubled mindset you may have found yourself in. By their very nature, dogs are always eager to give support and affection, so when life gets difficult, canine companionship is a welcome resource. Many universities have even taken to bringing in dogs to relieve the tensions of exam week.

Fitness Friends

The better you take care of your dog, the better you are likely to be taking care of yourself. Being a great dog owner demands that you give your pet the daily dose of exercise they need to be happy and healthy. Studies have found that dog owners walk an average of 300 minutes a week, nearly twice as long as non-owners. When you factor in all the good times you and your dog have at the dog park or walking in the neighborhood, you will realize that you aren’t just keeping your dog healthy – you are keeping yourself healthy as well.

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

Did you know just looking at a dog can make you a happier person? A 2009 study revealed that the brain releases more oxytocin after interacting with a pooch. Oxytocin is the hormone in our minds that makes us feel happy. This is partially why dogs are such a common companions for individuals who struggle with depression, PTSD, and similar disabilities. Therapy dogs are an enormous asset to people who need support, but even the average person stands to benefit emotionally from a great canine friend.

Be Cuter

The Dogs Trust of the United Kingdom conducted a study which discovered that more than half of the people they polled said owning a dog makes you more attractive. As many as 85% of the study participants also said that having a dog makes you way more approachable. So, a dog is more than just a great friend – it is a great way to make new (human) friends as well!