8 Ways Having a Dog Makes You a Better Person

Meaningful benefits of the dog-human relationship

By Leslie Phelan

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If you have a dog, then you are probably already aware of how that lovable pup makes life better. But have you considered all the specific ways in which you directly and meaningfully benefit from this relationship? What follows are 8 important ways that having a dog makes a human into a better person:

You toughen up about gross stuff:

Even if you were never what you’d call ‘prissy,’ once upon a time you might’ve been the kind of person who would’ve been horrified by the parade of excrement, vomit, drool, snout snot and eye boogers that you now deal with on a pretty regular basis. Now the only thing you’re horrified by are squeamish people who can’t handle a bit of poop on their hand.

Your crazy side chills out a bit:

Dogs have the innate ability to calm a person down – just ask any inmate who’s ever benefitted from a pet program in their prison. Studies show that having an animal to pat, sit with, tell secrets to, and cry on helps to build better social skills and confidence in a person, while decreasing their tendency for violent behavior.

They help improve your social life:

Now that you’re less likely to punch people out, if you are lucky enough to have a pet by your side, you’ll be more likely to talk to strangers on the street and in the park, resulting in more friends and a more hopping social life.

They keep you fit, or at least mobile:

Depending on their breed, walking them might not be the equivalent of a cross-fit habit — but all that time outdoors adds up to a life that is more active and healthier in general. Never mind the risk of heart disease you’re thwarting by moving your body more; no one wants the chunky sloth physique you get from being stagnant.

They make you more responsible:

Yes, we are responsible for their health and maintenance and yes, that in itself helps to build character, but aside from that, having a dog means you are responsible for everything they do. That means picking up after them, making sure you’re home to let them out, and accepting responsibility for replacing that friend’s couch they chewed up while teething.

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You realize that laughter is the best medicine:

They don’t even realize how funny they are being, and that is why they are such a riot – nothing is contrived. With dogs, hilarity is just what they are and when you can lighten up and laugh, everyone around you is better for it.

You gain sharpened coping mechanisms:

When you see those big, sweet eyes looking up at you with true adoration shining through, you are reminded of how lovable you can be. Dogs, in all their bouncy, energetic glory, remind us of our ability to make a positive impact on other creatures, which is therapeutic to our sense of hope and to our self-esteem. They help us become more resilient, improving our bounce-back rate like nothing else.

They teach us to love ourselves:

Stop for a second and count all the beings in your life that truly possess the capacity to love you in your darkest hour, no matter what. If you are like most people, you can count all these beings on one hand, and chances are, at least half of them have been canine. Unconditional love equals happiness, and when we are happy, we shine in our highest light and feel our best.

If you don’t have a pet, you now have eight more reasons to change that!