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And not just because of their unconditional love. Numerous studies have shown that owning a dog benefits our physical and mental wellbeing. For example…

-When we walk our dog, we exercise, too. A recent study found that dog owners walk an average of 300 minutes per week, or double the amount of non-dog owners.

Dogs can also strengthen human bonds. A study at Tufts University found that people who feel strongly connected to their pets also have stronger relationships, and tighter community ties. That’s because caring for a pet makes us more caring overall – because we get used to thinking about something besides ourselves.

-Dogs can also help us recover psychologically. That’s why dogs are used therapeutically with veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. University of British Columbia psychology professor Dr. Stanley Corey says, when we interact with a friendly dog, it reduces blood pressure, heart rate and stress hormone levels.