More Ways to Love Your Dog

 

Did you know that there are even more reasons to love your dog: better thinking, reduced stress and happier work? That’s right, recent research shows that Prioritizing Pets can lead to a happier and healthier relationship between you and your k9 buddy.

Dogs are a big part of our lives and evolution may play a part. In fact, dogs were the first species to be domesticated, going back 10,000 years. It is likely they afforded benefits to their owners, helping with hunting and offering companionship from the earliest days.

Today, people are extraordinarily committed to their pets, and a study of 2,600 pet parents by CertaPet found people make decisions based on the time they can spend with their dogs. To learn more, please stay tuned!

If you are like me and the rest of the world, you have spent a lot of time at home with your dog over the last couple years. Now that we are headed back to the office it might be a good idea to talk to your boss and see if you can bring your K9 buddy into work. Let them know that your furry friend allows for more clarity, reduced stress, and a happier work environment. That’s right, having puppies and dogs romping around at work—fully trained of course!–just might be the ticket and it is cheaper than a gym membership for a whole gaggle of employees. Tell your boss that this is even backed up by scientific research. Let’s dive right in…

These are stressful times and if you’re like most people, you are feeling the impact of stress in your work and your life. From the pandemic and world issues to weather crisises and work issues, we’re feeling the pressure.

People are struggling. A new study from the American Psychological Association found 84% of adults reported feeling the effects of prolonged stress including 47% who experienced anxiety, 44% who experienced sadness and 39% who experienced anger. And 67% of adults said they felt overwhelmed by the number of issues they were facing.

But reducing your stress and creating the conditions for greater happiness—in work and in life—may come from an unlikely source: your dog. You always knew it was great to spend time with your pooch, but he may have a greater impact than you thought—and you can increase the ways your dog helps you.

Prioritizing Pets

Dogs are a big part of our lives and evolution may play a part. In fact, dogs were the first species to be domesticated, going back 10,000 years. It is likely they afforded benefits to their owners, helping with hunting and offering companionship from the earliest days.

Today, people are extraordinarily committed to their pets, and a study of 2,600 pet parents by CertaPet found people make decisions based on the time they can spend with their dogs:

  • 47% of pet owners experience separation anxiety when they are away from their dogs (76% of dogs experience anxiety when their owners are away)
  • 41% have canceled plans because can’t take their dog along
  • 69% would prefer to work from home permanently for the sake of their dog

In addition, people may prioritize their dogs above their human relationships:

  • 70% would break up with someone who wouldn’t allow their dog to be around
  • 38% feel their dog is more important than significant other

Dogs offer emotional support and good company, without the complexities of human relationships—and they’re generally pretty cute as well. But their benefits are deeper too, and well-documented. Here’s why dogs offer such a great boon to your physical, mental, and emotional health—and to your work.

Dogs Help You Think Better

Perhaps one of the least-known benefits of a dog is how Fido helps you think better. Research by Washington State University found interacting with dogs enhanced people’s executive function—their ability to think, plan, memorize and concentrate. And this effect lasted six weeks beyond contact with dogs.

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Consider the power of this on your work: If your thinking is better, you can perform more easily and more effectively—contributing to greater happiness at work. And work tends to have a spillover effect. When you’re happier at work, you tend to experience greater joy in the rest of your life. So, the ability to bring your best and apply your talents brilliantly will have a positive impact at work and at home—all thanks to your dog.

Dogs Help You Connect

Relationships with other humans are critical to our mental health. Even if you’re an introvert you need connections with others—even if they are minimal. Your dog can be a bridge to other humans, helping you meet people, connect, and bond. A study by Virginia Commonwealth University found when dogs were present in the workplace, people got to know each other and had more conversations based on the four-legged visitors.

You’ve seen this effect in dog parks and on downtown walks, of course. A dog provides a signal of common interest (you both love furry friends) and an opening for a conversation. A study by the University of Chicago found incidental connections—a quick exchange with the person in line for coffee or a brief chat with the pet parent in the dog park—can contribute to happiness.

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Your dog can be a source of connection with anyone, including colleagues. You see your coworker’s dog on camera during your virtual meeting or you hear them discussing the appointment they’ve made at the vet. These are fodder for points of discussion and connection which can create the conditions for happiness in your workplace.

Dogs Contribute to Physical Health  

For years, studies (like this one from the University of Michigan) have found dogs contribute to physical health because of the physical activity that tends to go along with ownership—taking them for walks and even attending to their needs around the house. In addition, petting a dog reduces blood pressure and it can help with pain management by distracting people from their own physical or emotional conditions.

When you’re physically healthier, you’ll be able to work better and more effectively. You’ll have more energy for the big project and better endurance for the long-lasting effects of the pandemic on your work and life. Uncertainty about the future and ambiguity about how and when you’ll work tend to generate stress, but physical health helps you mitigate the effects and gives you more resilience to weather ups and the downs.

Dogs Reduce Stress

A recent study of over 6,000 participants by the University of York and the University of Lincoln found pets help reduce stress. This is partially because they provide emotional support and because they are tuned into humans. Brain scans of dogs at Emory University demonstrated that dogs are especially sensitive to human cues—helping to explain why their companionship is so meaningful—they are tuned into us in ways other humans may not be.

Dogs help reduce stress at home, but they can also reduce stress in the workplace. The study by Virginia Commonwealth University also investigated the employee experience when dogs were allowed to come to the office. It found people were measurably less stressed when dogs were present. This was true of the dog owners and of coworkers who were working around the dogs during the day.

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When you’re less stressed, you can do better work and enjoy it more. Stress tends to narrow your perspective, and as a result, it can be tough to think creatively or solve problems. In addition, when you’re stressed, you may be more prickly or edgy, impacting negatively on your relationships with colleagues. When your dog reduces your stress, your work and your relationships can be improved in turn.

What’s To Love

So, if you have a dog, appreciate her and all she can do to help you work better, reduce your stress levels and bring your best to your work. Take your dog for walks and enjoy time together in physical activity. Relax with your dog, enjoying the benefits of petting him or feeling his warmth as he lays on your feet during a virtual meeting with your boss. Look for people with whom you can connect based on common appreciation for your dogs and embrace the ways your dog can enhance your thinking and you’re coping.

Gratitude is a pathway to happiness, so appreciate the role your dog plays in your life, focusing on all the positive effects of your canine companion. Times are stressful, but we’ll get through it, and our dogs will guide us through.

Thanks to Tracy Bower and to the Dog Writers Association of America for this article.

So what do you think? Have you already sent you boss and email or scheduled a meeting with him on Monday morning? Or… maybe you will just continue to work at home. That’s a win-win for you and your dog! Let us know in the comments section or on our social channels. Just search dog works radio. If you would like more dog training advice, check out our website at Alaska dog works.com

It is now time our calendar of events. For those that are listening locally on KVRF or our current and past clients stay tuned for important announcements, for our other listeners, stick around and you might learn something cool.

We just finished a very successful summer of group classes in the park. We had a great turn out every time. Next year we are adding classes in Anchorage on the Park Strip and even some specialized group classes too. Our dates are already on our Facebook page as events.

Just last week we sponsored Alaska Dog Works Dryland Derby at Beach Lake Park in Chugiak. If you have ever been interested in competing with your dog in canicross, or bikejor this is the spot so begin training for next year! I am even conducting some bikejorring clinics right now. Check out chugiakdogmushers.com for more info.

Did you know that every Wednesday and Sunday night we do a Facebook live at 7 pm? Be sure to check us out. If you miss the live broadcasts, you can always tune in later too.

Also, stay tuned for info about the Mat-Su Outdoorsman Show next March, our Canine First Aid and K9 CPR class next summer and much more.  As always you can keep up to date by following us on our social channels, just search dog works radio and for more training tips and tricks and to learn how to schedule a free discovery call to talk with us about how to make your dog one of the best, visit Alaska dog works.com