With International Day of Happiness just around the corner Company of Animals founder and pet behaviour expert Dr Roger Mugford shares some of his insights around the relationship between dogs and their owners:
“Several studies have shown a link between pet ownership and improved wellbeing and mental health. In todays’ busy and often stressful way of life, it has become more important than ever to seek the benefits and joy a pet’s companionship can bring. For those suffering from stress, loneliness or depression, spending time with a pet or walking a dog can have a tremendous impact on your mood and even help with meeting new people.
“Not only have several studies shown that pets make us feel happier and more content, but there is also evidence that dog owners have lower stress levels, blood pressure and a lower likelihood of stroke and heart attacks. Whether the benefits come in the form of extra physical activity from walking our dogs or through the emotional bond we build with our pets, there is no question of the positive impact pet ownership has on our lives.
“Over the years I have had the pleasure to work on several projects where I’ve been able to see the strength of this animal/human bond and its impact first hand. One of such projects was DOTS (Dogs on the Streets) which is a charity dedicated to the welfare of dogs belonging to UK’s homeless community. The dog is often both a lifeline, and much needed companion to combat some of the loneliness often faced by those that are homeless.
“Then there are of course the many wonderful dogs who help provide support and independence to those with disabilities and medical conditions such as epilepsy. These companionships don’t just add an extra level of safety and independence, but a loving friend and companion.
“Personally, I don’t think there’s anyone who could dispute the joy and the multitude of benefits associated with owning a pet. On days like the International Day of Happiness we might be tempted to give our pet a bit of extra attention and love, but I think it’s more important to take a step back and remember that bonding activities such as games, training, and walks should be an important part of day to day life to ensure they can also enjoy a happy, healthy and wholesome life. As a business we have always looked to develop products that help owners and their pets find an enriched life and these can be a good start for all dog owners to improve their pet’s welfare and happiness.”