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New study reveals 8 in 10 dog owners believe taking walks with their pet has improved their mental health

2 min read

Jo Hemmings, Behavioural Psychologist says: “Simply the oblivion of your pet to issues that are distressing in the world or the anxiety and stresses of your everyday life – and their never changing routine – can be reassuring and comforting.”

To mark Mental Health Awareness Week, a poll of UK dog owners commissioned by Purina has highlighted the positive impact owning a dog can have on your mental and physical health. 

82 per cent of those surveyed said that going on a dog walk allows them to escape from their daily life pressures and improves their mental health.  
Increased exercise, more time outdoors, and bonding time spent with their dogs all means owners are positively supporting both their physical health and mental health, as well as ensuring their four-legged family members are getting the exercise and mental stimulation they all need to be happy and healthy dogs.

A spokesperson from Purina said, “The central theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is to move more for your mental health. With dog ownership still at record high levels post-pandemic, more people than ever are noticing the benefits of daily dog walking with their beloved pooches. Regular walks are so important to dog health, it’s great to see the effects of taking a dog walk are also benefiting owners too.”

The benefits on physical health were also shown through the research with 69 per cent of dog owners feeling that their fitness improved since owning a dog. 79 per cent also agreed that they had become more active outdoors as a result. 

The research went on to suggest that when walking their dogs, most participants agreed that they’re getting more time outdoors than they would prior to owning a dog. 

31 per cent agreed that they spend 9+ hours outdoors per week just walking their dog. This also was supported by 53 per cent of dog owners going on 8+ walks a week. These frequent trips provide a time to clear the mind and create a regular exercise schedule, which is great for both physical and mental health.

Jo Hemmings, Behavioural psychologist Said: “Few things are as uplifting for your mental health as having a furry companion by your side. Simply the oblivion of your pet to issues that are distressing in the world or the anxiety and stresses of your everyday life – and their never changing routine – can be reassuring and comforting.

Everyday life can be stressful at almost every turn. But having a dog, who needs their daily walks, motivating you to take regular exercise, and who is always pleased to see you; or who is oblivious to the external pressures we’re all under and whose never changing routines bring comfort and reassurance – all these things deliver huge mental health benefits. 

Physical activity, especially when it is outdoors, releases endorphins in the brain that give you energy and positivity. It reduces stress and boosts your mood, whatever the unpredictable British weather throws at us. And what makes us happy also makes our dogs happy, reinforcing that positivity and giving you simple opportunities for self-care.

If that weren’t enough, walking your dog is often a companiable activity. You get to see, smile at and chat to other dog owners, staving off feelings of isolation and loneliness that we can all suffer from time to time , and many of these chats can turn into enduring friendships.”

To learn more about the study and further understand the impact dogs can have not just on mental and physical health, but also on your social life, view the full study landing page.