Dogs for Good Chief Executive, Peter Gorbing, recently penned a few words about the health benefits of dogs to humans; a subject that resonated with him from our debut Power of Dogs event in Oxford.

At the event hosted by Oxford’s Wolfson College, one of the excellent panel of speakers, Dr Roger Mugford, spoke of dogs being our ‘Natural Health Service’. “This immediately struck me as a brilliantly pithy way of summing up why dogs are good for us.  And then later, I realised it’s even better than I thought at the time…  but firstly, let’s examine the evidence.

The health benefits of dogs to humans

“Research over many years has documented the health benefits of dogs to humans. These include greater exercise, lower risks of cardiovascular disease and increased immunity to allergies in children. Studies have also identified the role that dogs play in making people feel connected to communities, thereby improving their mental health and wellbeing. This last fact is sometimes given less importance than perhaps it deserves.

“Dogs for Good bring dogs and people together to help overcome specific challenges. The charity uses a range of different approaches, including highly trained dogs (Assistance Dog service), support to families and their companion dogs (Family Dog service) and therapeutic support using animal assisted intervention techniques (Community Dog service).

“At a recent talk I gave to the Hill’s Global Symposium, I showed delegates (mainly vets) the Dogs for Good short introductory film that features lots of our clients from a wide range of the services we offer. Watching the film again, I was suddenly struck by the simple fact that every one of our clients, whatever their disability or condition, had a huge smile on their face when they were interacting with their dog.

Dogs bring huge joy and happiness

“Our clients tell us that their dogs make them feel more positive about life, increase their confidence and motivation to try new things, help them connect with their community and increase their sense of personal wellbeing.  Maybe our clients have a greater appreciation of what their dogs bring to their lives because of what they have been through – although I wouldn’t bet on it!  Pretty much every dog owner who has built up a strong bond with a well-trained dog will tell you the same thing – their dog brings huge joy and happiness to their lives. That in turn brings huge benefits, to both physical and mental health.

Power of Dogs events

Join us for an evening with some of the leading figures and celebrities in the world of dogs, who will share their experience, passion and relationship with dogs

“A study recently carried out by the University of Lincoln supported by Dogs for Good shows that this sense of well-being can actually have an effect on demand for health services. The study found dogs are saving the UK health sector an estimated £2.45bn a year – primarily the result of less visits to the doctor and improved mental wellbeing of dog owners. National healthcare strategies are increasingly focused on prevention – tackling obesity, social isolation and loneliness, lack of exercise etc.  So, let’s look at one of these issues in a bit more detail.

Increasing our health and wellbeing

“Loneliness is a growing phenomenon across the world as families get geographically more fragmented and people live for longer. Dogs for Good has piloted ‘Dog Day’opportunities to bring potentially isolated people together to take part in dog-related activities – walks, games, memories, crafts etc. Research shows that dogs can be the ‘glue’ in a community – a way of bringing people together and keeping people interested in what is going on around them. We welcome the development of any community-based initiatives that encourage “dogs and people to come together as a way of tackling social isolation. The simple reality is if you walk down a road or sit on a bench with a dog beside you, people will talk to you!

“So, dogs can play a huge role in increasing our health and wellbeing. This means that every dog owner has a potential ‘natural health service’ living with them.  Even better, our work at Dogs for Good shows that the more we support the wellbeing of dogs so that they thrive, the more they will give back to us as humans – a real win-win for people and dogs.”

Power of Dogs events

We are planning events in Manchester, Bristol and Buckinghamshire in 2019. Find out more.