How dogs are good for our health and wellbeing

Research over many years has documented the ways that dogs are good for our health and wellbeing; including greater levels of exercise, lower risks of cardiovascular disease and increased immunity to allergies in children.  So, as part of our 30th anniversary activities, we recently conducted a ‘health survey’; asking people how dogs contribute to their overall health and wellbeing.

The results and feedback provide a heart-warming insight into the phenomenal power that dogs have in transforming lives as well as giving an indication of best-loved breeds and favourite names.

Loveable Labs

Of the 66 breed types recorded in the survey, lovely Labradors came out as overall top dogs.  Pure labs, first crosses, black, yellow and chocolate labs… however they present themselves, 22% of respondents cited this breed as the best of the bunch. No surprise then that Labradors are one of the main choices for assistance dog work!

Dogs for Good Client Service Manager, Duncan Edwards, comments: “Retriever breeds such as Labradors have, unsurprisingly enough, a very strong, natural instinct to retrieve – which works perfectly for assistance dog work as someone with a physical disability will need their assistance dog to retrieve or ‘pick up’ dropped items for them.  Labradors are also very engaging; thriving within a positive handler relationship. They love to please and thus, love working and being with people.  Additionally, for a lot of the task work that our dogs carry out, we need a dog of a certain size – Labradors are just the right height to be able to open doors and importantly, work alongside a person in a wheelchair.”

What’s in a name?

The top five names recorded in the Dogs for Good Health Survey were Millie (or Milly), Rosie, Milo, Bella and Pippa.

Dogs for Good, Dog Supply coordinator, Becci Hodge, comments:  “The name that you choose for your dog is actually really important and deserves a lot of thought.  Names that comprise two syllables, such as the favourites in our survey, are perfect as puppies learn and respond better to ‘short’ sounds which are easier for them to hear when potentially distracted. Longer names can get muddled and even mispronounced which just makes learning a bit tricky for a puppy who is searching for consistency.”

Dogs make us happy

Receive our e-newsletter

Sign up for monthly updates about our puppies and dogs, training tips, and stories of our amazing partnerships between people and dogs

The Dogs for Good survey asked respondents what they considered to be the most important benefit their dog brings to them and 59% of respondents said that their dog contributed greatly to their overall happiness.  The words of one respondent bring this powerful benefit to life: “My dog makes me laugh and laugh.  She is a constant reminder that for all the sadness in the world, life really is wonderful and precious.”

And in addition to the benefits dogs bring to making us happy in mind, they also have a positive impact on our bodies.  The fact that they need a daily walk or free run means that our dogs are getting us out and about and one fifth of survey respondents named this as a major benefit to having a dog.  One respondent commented: “My dog is a joy that I now wouldn’t be without.  I am an elderly widow who has never been on her own and without my dog, I’d be a couch potato,” while another revealed that they were “overweight and unfit.  But I now run with my dogs and have completed two marathons.”

How dogs are good for our health and wellbeing

Stephen Jenkinson, Access Advisor to The Kennel Club says: “For so long, ‘dog walking’ was taken for granted and overlooked as something of benefit to society.  But now, all my work revolves around supporting the very real and sustained benefits to people’s physical and mental health, from something as simple as a walk in the park with their dog.”

Stephen’s comments are backed up by the results of a study carried out by the University of Lincoln –and  supported by us – which found that dogs are saving the UK health sector an estimated £2.45bn a year; primarily the result of fewer visits to the doctor and improved mental and physical wellbeing.

“We’re not known as a nation of dog-lovers for nothing,” says Peter Gorbing. “The results of our health survey provide me with more yet more evidence to back up my belief that we’re only scratching the surface of the positive impacts and benefits dogs bring to our human lives. Long may it continue.”