How we change what others think, feel, believe and do
Own a Dog
Buy a dog. Look after it. Feed it. Walk it. Hug it. That's about it.
Owning a dog is good for you!
Dog is not called 'Man's best friend' for nothing. They are affectionate and thrive on human company. They generally love to please and enjoy being petted. Taking the dog for a walk is good exercise, and you get to meet all kinds of other people who stop to say hello to your pooch.
Friedmann and Thomas (1995) studied patients who had suffered heart attacks. They found that those who had dogs were nine times more likely to survive at least one year after their collapse.
Allen et al (2001) checked that ownership truly causes reduction in stress by giving a dog to some stockbrokers who were suffering from hypertension and who did not own a dog, whilst leaving others dog-free. After six months of owning a dog, the tested stockbrokers had a much lower level of blood pressure. In fact owning a dog was found to be more effective than using one of the most common hypertension-reducing medicines.
Interestingly, cat ownership does not have the same effect and may only make you a bit happier. Friedmann and Thomas' study showed that cat ownership could even make death after a heart attack more likely (if you are a relaxed cat owner, then well done!).
Other research has shown that having a robot dog (Sony AIBO) has many of the benefits of a real dog (and less of the mess). It has also been found that watching animals on TV is much better for you than watching soap operas!
(Disclosure: I've always had dogs. I have two Golden Retrievers at the time of writing. I don't mind cats but I'm not a fan).
Allen, K., Shykoff, B.E. and Izzo, J.L., Jr (2001). Pet ownership, but not ace inhibitor therapy, blunts home blood pressure responses to mental stress. Hypertension 38, 4, 815–20.
Friedmann E. and Thomas S.A. (1995). Pet ownership, social support, and one-year survival after acute myocardial infarction in the Cardiac Arrhythmia Suppression Trial (CAST), American Journal of Cardiology, 76, 17, 1213-7.