Dogs help their owners to cope during lockdown

Dogs have been an important source of emotional support during the pandemic, according to new research from The Kennel Club.

A survey carried out in July 2020 found that many long-term owners were comforted and calmed by their dog during the crisis, with 91% saying their dog had a positive impact on their mental health.

Two in five (40%) said this was because their dog kept them active and almost one in three (32%) said it was because having a dog provided a routine. In fact, three in five (61%) described their dog as a ‘lifeline’ and 29% agreed that spending more time with their dog was the best thing about lockdown.

The responses also highlight the therapeutic value of man’s best friend: three in five (61%) owners said they found more comfort in their dog than in humans, and that their dog understands them better than most people, while 41% feel their dog doesn’t judge them ‘in the way humans can’. Almost half (47%) agreed that their dog helped them feel less lonely, and kept them feeling calm, and more than a third (36%) said having a dog made them less anxious. Almost one in three (30%) feel their dog was there for them when no one else was.

“These statistics show what anyone who owns or love dogs already know,” said Bill Lambert, spokesperson for The Kennel Club. “For centuries, through thick and thin, dogs have provided us with unconditional love, loyalty and companionship without any judgement, and clearly that has a positive impact on our mental health.

“Similarly, being a dog owner supports self-care — taking a dog out for a walk encourages social interaction and provides motivation to get outdoors and be active, and this may be the only social contact, exercise or activity an isolated, lonely or anxious person has the whole day. Being needed by our four-legged friend can be a lifeline when getting through each day is hard and sometimes human support doesn’t hit the mark. As we continue to face a global pandemic and the psychological stresses that brings with it, this unique support that dogs provide to their owners is now more important than ever. In a world full of chaos, man’s best friend is certainly living up to its name.”

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