By Chris Pitts, RVT, of Broadway Animal Hospital.
A dog in your life can mean a healthier and happier life for you. There is the obvious benefit of an increase in exercise because you will need to take you dog out for daily walks. But there is also the potential to be more social on those walks if you join a group of like-minded dog people. Walking with others will make you more likely to be consistent with your exercise. In addition, the camaraderie of walking your dog with others is good for your mental health.
If you are looking to be more social, there are plenty of dog meet ups, dog parks, and volunteer opportunities to get you meeting people. Discussing your dog's particular idiosyncrasies, exchanging training ideas, or planning a fundraiser for a canine rescue are all great ice breakers for dog-minded folks. Helping the community out by participating in the fundraiser's a nice perk too.
You don't have to have other people around to enjoy the benefits of having a dog. Just getting out of the house for twenty minutes and taking your dog for a stroll allows your mind to calm, is beneficial to your thought processes, and can lower your blood pressure. Sometimes, not having humans around is the entire purpose for having a dog. If you are like me and are inundated with humans all day, then that moment when I can walk in the door to my house and not find a human there, but I can find a wonderful dog who is happy to see me, is pure nirvana.
A dog can also give you a sense of security. I know of a Rottweiler who fended off a home intruder and paid for it by getting stabbed in the eye by the perpetrator. A five pound Chihuahua may not be able to chase away a robber, but if it's anything like my Chihuahua mix, that little dog will give you plenty of advance warning that there is a stranger approaching.
If you are feeling the need to get out of the house, or have companionship, increase your exercise or lower your blood pressure, get a dog. A lot of nice side-effects can happen for you. And the dog will be all the happier to have you around too.