‘She actually became fitter, healthier and far more social’: How dogs affect our well-being
Man’s relationship with dogs dates back roughly 45,000 years. A long relationship to say the least. But there is good evidence to suggest that our relationship with these furry animals has strong biological advantages. Meg Olmert, the author of “Made For Each Other: the biology of the human-animal bond” recently featured in Business Insider, to explain why we have embraced dogs into our lives for so many years and the benefits they can bring.
Man’s best friend
As she explains, our relationship with a dog can be very similar to that of a mother and her child. “[W]hen they do fMRI studies just like a mother will have certain brain regions light up very strongly in the dopamine and oxytocin rich areas when they look at a picture of their baby versus just another infant. When you look at a picture of your dog versus another dog, you see the same thing,” states Olmert.
The power of therapy dogs
In light of this, it is no wonder that dogs can have an incredibly therapeutic impact on our well being, especially for those suffering from server stress or trauma. “Do therapy dogs work?” says Olmert “Well they certainly can. Dogs can do amazing things. With our program Warrior Canine Connection, we work with service members and veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. We have the patients who say, ‘This dog is better than any drug I ever took. I didn’t sleep for five years until this dog slept next to me.'”
The impact a dog can have
We spoke with Sandor Fagyal, the co-founder of Wuuff.dog, an innovative online platform made for dog breeders and those who want to buy purebred puppies, to get a better understand of how dogs can have a positive impact on human well being.
“I have very clearly witnessed an example of how a dog has greatly affected the psychology of a human,” says Faygal.
“My Grandmother, who had some hearing difficulties, was not too social and tended to stay inside most of the time, and would not see many people. This became worse for a time after my Grandfather passed away, and she became less active. So then we decided, with her blessing, to have her look after our family dog during the daytime. Almost right away, having another soul in the home really brightened her life,” he adds.
“Despite being in her late seventies, she would walk our dog Charlie down the village each day, and people would greet her and the dog, and she would start to talk with more people. She actually became fitter, healthier and far more social, even as she got older. Charlie who was an active, energetic dog, would even walk calmer and slower with her, to match her speed when they were out. It’s amazing that into her late 80’s she would be out more than she was 10 years before, and would enjoy working in the garden while Charlie was there laying on the grass.”
As this heartwarming story demonstrates, dogs can have a profoundly positive impact on our mentality and our well-being. In an age when so many are worried by the potentially depressing side effects of our modern lives and the impact of technology, it can be comforting to remember the long history with have with dogs and the potential joy they can bring into our lives.