We all know about dogs being used as seeing companions and maybe you’ve heard of dog’s being used in occupational therapy, speech therapy and rehabilitation after strokes or accidents. But is a dog beneficial to people who live overseas, away from their usual circle of friends and family? We took a look and discovered 10 reasons why a dog could improve your expat life…
There’s a growing body of research that suggests that people who have a pet have healthier hearts, have fewer sick days off work, make fewer visits to the doctor, get more exercise and are less depressed. And pets, particularly dogs, help promote interactions with other people, reducing social isolation and loneliness.
So, here are our 10 reasons why having a dog at home could improve your expat life:
1. You’ll get out more and meet more locals and other expats because, as we all know, your pooch needs to be walked twice a day, which means getting out regularly, which could even lead to you forming a dog-waking group.
2. It doesn’t matter if you speak the local lingo or not, doggy talk between owners is a universal language. Forty-six percent of women in the USA said they’d stop and talk to anyone with a sweet puppy, according to the American Kennel Club.
3. A dog will improve your fitness; whether you walk, run or throw a ball for your four-legged friend, it’s all activity that’s good for you too.
4. Pet dogs have been shown to help maintain physical wellbeing in elderly owners because ownership forces the owners to perform certain physical tasks (bending down, walking, climbing stairs) that they might otherwise stop doing if they didn’t have a dog.
5. Your dog’s love is unconditional, so if you’ve had a bad overseas-living day he or she will listen to your stresses and problems without judging you.
6. Blood pressure levels reduce with a dog at home or in the office, according to studies in Sweden and the USA. Even having a dog in the same room while performing a maths test reduced heart rate during the test.
7. A dog can make you feel happier. One study found that dog ownership was associated with lower rates of depression among single women (but, perhaps strangely, not men).
8. If you have an only-child, studies show that he or she will benefit from having a dog, as it teaches the child sharing and caring and perhaps some rough and tumble that they would otherwise get with siblings, as well as promoting higher self-esteem.
9. Schools that have a pet dog have been shown to have lower rates of delinquency, and children with learning difficulties have shown improvement when a dog was in their classroom. If your child is struggling with learning in a foreign language, having a dog at home could provide the calming influence he or she needs.
10. Feeling the expat blues? Petting a dog produces a boost in self-made feel-good chemicals, dopamine, oxytocin and prolactin. So go on have a good stroke…any dog will do!
Acquiring a dog is a big decision, but if it’s going to make you happier and healthier, perhaps he or she would be a wise investment. Learn more about overseas pet ownership in the How-To/Family section of your local Angloinfo website.