Dog owners would rather be with pets than friends, study suggests

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( - More than half of American dog owners admit they flake out on social events to hang out with their pet, according to new research.

The study of 2,000 dog owners found skipping out on human commitments specifically to get a bit of quality furry friend time is a common occurrence.

That bond is understandable given the way they aid our mental health — from their ability to lessen relationship stress to softening bad days at work and more, the average dog gets their owner through five (4.83) stressful events every week.

The results emerged from Link AKC, creators of a smart collar for dogs, and pinpointed the mental, physical and emotional health bonuses of dog ownership. The study also found that many owners say their pet genuinely aided their ability to get over a breakup or handle the death of a loved one.

In fact, six in ten survey-takers said their dog often takes care of them in some way, shape or form, reinforcing the important two-way relationship between dogs and humans.

According to the study, 82 percent of dog owners noticed an improvement in their mental and emotional health thanks to their four-legged therapist. Specifically, single responders said their dog helped them through an average of nearly five (4.83) stressful events per week.

Man and woman’s best friend has proven to be a reliable furry shoulder to cry on during major life events, as four in ten responders said they leaned on their pet to get through the loss of a loved one. Another 20 percent said their dog has helped them get through a difficult breakup.

More than half of dog owners surveyed said seeing their pet when they come home makes them feel extremely happy, and 88 percent said their dog made them a better person.

But that’s not the only way our canine friends help our overall health; owning a dog also motivates us to move more.

More than two-thirds of the survey takers credit their dog with helping them to exercise more regularly. Sixty-two percent of those polled say their dog gets them out of the house for a walk two or more times a day, with 68 percent claiming to have actually noticed improvements to their health as a result.

“The physical benefits of dog ownership are often the first that come to mind, but we’ve found the emotional and mental health benefits of having a furry companion are just as impactful,” said Herbie Calves, Link AKC CMO. “People consider their dogs members of their family and are looking for ways to connect and interact with them on a deeper level.”

Why own a dog? According to 55 percent of survey takers, “unconditional love” is the biggest benefit of dog ownership, followed by constant companionship.

Dogs are also great listeners. 81 percent of responders said they talked to their dog like they were a friend, and single responders were two times as likely to talk about relationship problems with their pooch.

Turns out, there’s no better confidant than a dog. Seventy-three percent saying they tell their dog things they wouldn’t tell anyone else.

Safety is also a significant benefit of dog ownership, with nine out of ten responders saying they feel safer with their dog nearby.

Seventy-eight percent of dog owners said they make life decisions based on their pet. More than half say they sometimes skip social occasions to hang out with their dog, and 75 percent reported they did not like to be away from their little buddy at all.

Dogs aren’t the only loyal creatures, it turns out. Eighty percent said it would be a dealbreaker if their romantic partner did not like their pet.

Our dogs are more than just pets, so, it’s no surprise that the majority (71 percent) of those surveyed said they’d be interested in a product that let them virtually check in on their dog while physically apart from them.

“Dog ownership is a great responsibility but also comes with great physical, emotional and mental benefits,” said Calves. “Our goal at Link AKC is to provide dog parents with useful, insightful information to give them peace of mind that they are doing what is best for their dog, who in exchange do so much for them.”

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