Tuesday, October 9, 2012
We love our dogs like they are part of the family, but they are more than just cute rambunctious balls of fur offering endless amusement. They can actually make a family unit stronger, on emotional and physical levels. Sometimes I think we can only aspire to give as much back to those we love as our pets enrich our lives.
How do dogs make a family bond stronger and help us live better lives? Let’s count the ways.
1. Creating Memories and Milestones
If you’ve ever been around a tightly knit family, then you have probably heard a few stories about their shared recollections and probably a few pet memories. Having a dog creates a shared being to love, and we tend to note the things those we love do. And dogs seem to provide endless antics for us to notice.
Beyond their antics, milestones in our pets’ lives become ones in our own. When my family begins reminiscing about past Christmases, the first one brought up is almost always the Christmas Eve our family dog, Daisy, had puppies. She brought extra joy to the holiday and added to our family history.
2. Bonding Over Common Ground
It’s these moments and what people have in common that make them close. People are so diverse in interests, and just plain busy doing their own thing, that common ground can be hard to find, even if they are related. Even when family members feel like they have little to say to each other, they can still talk meaningfully about their pets, or work together to feed or play with them.
This can open the channels of communication and lead to further conversation on other topics, instead of everyone retreating behind closed bedroom doors.
3. Fostering Caring and Responsibility
Dogs make people better humans. Having grown up with pets, then lived years without them thanks to crazy allergies, and then back to being a happy pet owner for the last five years, I can give witness to this. I was a little more self-involved without a pet to make me aware of things outside myself. Caring for a dog teaches and reinforces responsibility and nurturing.
That carries over into our other relationships. It’s easier to see a need and have the urge to take care of things when it is already habit. This is especially beneficial to families, in which every member should take part in each other’s health and happiness.
We know petting our dogs makes us happy, but there is also science to back it up. Apparently, whenever we set hand to fur, our neurotransmitters begin giving each other high fives. A hormone called oxytocin goes into high gear and makes us feel content and relieves anxiety. Who wouldn’t prefer to live and spend time with happier people?
5. Making Us Literally Stronger
In addition to mental health, dogs make us healthier physically. Studies have also indicated that the release of oxytocin can also make us heal faster. Neat trick, huh?
There are also the added health benefits we get from walking and playing with our dogs. Exercise improves health in many ways, including reduced risk of heart disease, stronger joints and healthier bones.
So that’s five ways dogs strengthen families, but I’m sure there are more. It’s obvious they enrich our lives and those of the ones we love. Your pet probably deserves a tasty CANIDAE dog treat and a belly rub for that. Besides, it will make both of you happy!
Does your dog make your family stronger? How?
Top photo by Glen Johannes
Bottom photo by Andrew Morrell
Read more articles by Tamara McRill