Picture it: You come home from a long day to your dog bounding toward you with the unbridled excitement equivalent to a celebrity spotting and giving you one big, wet lick on your cheek. It’s hard to imagine a better instant mood-booster. But there are a myriad of other benefits to welcoming a furry friend into your fold, from increased self-esteem to more exercise and less loneliness.
Once you’ve decided to bring a dog into your home, find out how you can make the most out of your time with your pup — and gain those health and beauty benefits to boot.
Cuddle With Your Dog
Fido won’t do you much good if he’s always off in a corner by himself. Alan Beck, Ph.D., director of the Center for the Human-Animal Bond at Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine and his co-researcher Aaron Katcher found in the early ’80s that when people interact with dogs, "you actually get a drop in blood pressure — a true relaxation response," he says. More recently, researchers in Japan found that dog owners who were bonded to their pets experienced a spike in oxytocin — a neurotransmitter that helps us cope with stress — from simply meeting their dogs’ gazes.