“I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love. For me, they are the role model for being alive.” — Gilda Radner
If you’re a dog parent, then the quote above rings true. Not only do they provide unmatched companionship, but research has also found that your furry best friend has numerous benefits. Of course, since they have to be walked, this squeezes in some much-needed physical activity. But, owning a dog can also help you become calmer, more mindful, and feel less isolated.
As that weren’t enough, life is just genuinely better and more enjoyable when they’re around. I wake up every morning to my dog rolling around the bed with pure joy on her face. I can’t help but laugh. And, I think that’s one of the best ways to greet the day.
Moreover, nothing beats coming home to see her excitement. I also can’t imagine my workday without her company. So, for example, when I get frustrated or can’t get in the zone, we’ll go for a walk. Or she’ll just come over so that I can pet her until I chill out.
Since I’ve grown up my entire life around dogs, I’ve always been aware of all the above. The other day, however, during our post-lunch stroll, I came to the conclusion that dogs could be beneficial to entrepreneurs. Why? Well, here are 11 solid reasons.
1. Owning a dog is good for your ticker.
You can live a longer life if you own a dog. An extensive review of studies conducted between 1950 and 2019 revealed that dog owners have a lower risk of dying. According to research, the reason, at least, is that dog owners have better responses to stress and lower blood pressure levels.
The mere presence of a dog makes a difference. It’s been found that people who had previously experienced coronary events had even lower mortality rates. It’s believed that this is because the human-dog bonds reduce stress, one of the leading causes of cardiovascular disease.
A Gallup Wellbeing Index found that 45% of entrepreneurs are stressed, compared to 42% of “other workers.” Additionally, entrepreneurs are more likely to report having “worried a lot,” at 34% versus 30%. So while having a dog won’t completely eliminate this stress, it could potentially alleviate your stress enough to be a lifesaver.
2. Dogs reduce stress and anxiety.
Continuing from the previous point — dogs have been found to not only lower stress but anxiety as well.
“In one study, 48 participants were given a stress test where they had to do public speaking and then perform difficult calculations while unfriendly observers watched them,” writes Jill Suttie, Psy.D., for Greater Good. “The participants were randomly assigned to have either a friend, a dog they didn’t know or no one accompany them before and during the test.” Heart rate and cortisol levels were measured before, just after, and 30 minutes after the test, and anxiety scales were filled out.
“While everyone became more anxious during the test and showed higher heart rates and cortisol levels, those participants paired with a dog had lower levels of both than those with no support or even those with a friend,” states Suttie. This suggests that dogs may help us heal from stressful conditions.
What if you can’t have a pet? There is some evidence to suggest that just seeing videos of dogs can reduce anxiety and stress. Therefore, she adds, it’s no surprise that many of us turn to adorable puppy (and cat) videos for relief.
3. Dogs increase oxycontin.
Being around an animal increases your oxytocin levels. This is a neurotransmitter that reduces fear and increases trust for the uninitiated. Moreover, it’s oxytocin that helps strengthen the bond between you and your dog while helping you relax as well.
Therefore, petting your dog isn’t just enjoyable. It’s physiologically beneficial to you both.
As for entrepreneurs, this could be a simple way to help you fight back against an “always-on” culture.
4. Being around dogs boosts your mood.
How can you be sad when you’re around your furry family member? Personally, I would say that’s a tough fear. And, several studies confirm this sentiment.
Several mood-boosting hormones, including oxytocin, serotonin, and prolactin, are released when participants stroke their dogs — even it’s just for a few minutes. And, considering that 72% of entrepreneurs have self-reported mental health concerns, any type of relief is welcome.
5. Having a dog keeps your weight in check.
You become more active when you own a dog without even realizing it. By playing with your dog and going for walks, you provide your body with additional exercise every day — which is vital if you live a sedentary lifestyle.
According to Healthy People, in one study, 20 minutes of walking your dog five times a week resulted in a 14.4-pound weight loss over the course of a year.
Furthermore, according to another study, dog owners walk an average of 2,760 more steps than non-dog owners.
“We were amazed to find that dog walkers were on average more physically active and spent less time sitting on the coldest, wettest, and darkest days than non-dog owners were on long, sunny, and warm summer days,” said Andy Jones, a University of East Anglia professor who was in charge of the study.
Even if you don’t need to shed any pounds, at least walking or playing with your best friend keeps you physically active. In turn, this can build your energy and stamina that’s sorely needed as an entrepreneur.
6. Dogs can teach you valuable skills.
“Dog owners know that training requires time, effort, and patience – all things that are useful in other aspects of our lives,” note the folks over at Purina. “But that isn’t the only thing having a dog teaches us. From enjoying the great outdoors to appreciate the smaller things in life, our dogs really know how to lead by example when it comes to happiness.”
Additionally, having a family dog can teach children responsibilities, like feeding and walking them. One study concluded that “Attachment to pets has an important role in children’s social, emotional, and cognitive development, mental health, well-being, and quality of life.” It also stated that “dogs may help children to regulate their emotions.”
Even if you wait until adulthood to have your own dog, you can learn these skills. Just ask anyone who just got a puppy how much responsibility they now have. It’s seriously like having a newborn.
What’s more, your dog can help improve your communication skills. Mainly, this is because they encourage conversations, help you read non-verbal cues, and focus on the other person. Also, they’ll make you more empathetic.
Finally, a study at Tufts University’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine found that the attachment a person has to a pet enables them to feel more connected to their community and to their human relationships.
Suffice to say, all of these skills are essential for entrepreneurs to possess if they want to be successful.
7. Having dogs at work reduces absenteeism.
Whether you’re working remotely, hybrid, or in a traditional workplace setting, dog ownership reduces personal or sick days. One reason is that having a dog strengthens that immune system. Another is that having a pooch around leads to a more calm and enjoyable work environment.
Furthermore, research shows that employees who bring their dogs to work have higher levels of job satisfaction and have more positive perceptions of their employers.
8. Dogs encourage work-life integration.
The ability to bring dogs to work allows your and your team to successfully balance their personal and professional lives. For example, since their pup will be at work, there’s no need to worry or rush home to feed and walk the dog.
Similarly, this can also improve productivity.
“This makes sense when you consider that multiple studies have shown that taking short breaks throughout the workday — whether it’s for a game of fetch during lunch or to stop and give a pooch a good scratch behind the ear — helps employees regain their focus and energy, preventing that common mid-afternoon slump,” says Amanda Augustine, a career expert for TopResume.
9. Dogs make the dream work.
According to a study from Central Michigan University, dogs can boost teamwork through trust and collaboration. For example, those who worked on a project together while a dog was present, “ranked their team-mates more highly on measures of trust, team cohesion and intimacy than those who had not.”
10. Have a dog, retain employees.
Keeping morale high and your employees happy is key to retaining workers. This leads to better productivity and profitability. It should come as no surprise then that in a Fortune.com survey, 53% of employees in non-pet-friendly offices say they’d be more likely to stay if they could bring their pets into the office.
11. Dogs can improve your company’s image.
Last week I stopped by my local convenience store to pick some last-minute dinner items. To my delighted surprise, the owner just got an adorable yellow lab puppy. As I did my shopping, this bundle of joy followed me around the store. Needless to say, this made my experience much more pleasant — and I will gladly revisit soon to hang out with this puppy again.
It should go without saying that incorporating a dog-friendly culture can bolster your company’s reputation.
And, as an added perk, that’s just not when it comes to customers. So it’s also an effective tactic for attracting top talent as Millennials, in particular, demand more pet-inclusive workplaces.
“Employers are starting to realize that having a Millennial bring … a pet to work, you wind up getting a more focused employee, you get someone more comfortable at the office and a person willing to work longer hours,” said Bob Vetere, president, and CEO of the American Pet Products Association, in an interview with CNBC.
According to Vetere, Millennials are likely to regard their pets “as practice families or substitute families and seem to be more verbal in their wants and needs for their pet and for making sure their pet is well-tended and well cared for.”
Image Credit: Alena Darmel; Pexels; Thank you!