From digital nomads to staying cozy in your home office, freelancers have unique challenges in their day. You have to stay motivated, stick to a schedule, and make sure there’s still time for play.
This might be why more and more remote workers are getting dogs. Since the COVID-19 pandemic that leads to many people working full-time from home for the first time, Humane Societies reported a 20-60% increase in adoptions.
If you’re interested in getting a dog, you should know that there are some scientifically-backed health benefits. In fact, a study by the American Heart Association reported people live longer if they own a dog. The effects are substantial for every cause of death (24% lower risk overall) and even higher when it comes to cardiovascular health issues (31%).
This is a pretty good argument for getting a dog, and something to remember when you’re paying for a particularly high vet bill or your pup has destroyed another pair of shoes.
Yes, it’s not always easy to be a dog owner, but the research is clear — we’re better with them than without them.
The first reason, and likely linked to lower heart problems, is the regular exercise that’s part of a dog owner’s daily routine. We’re walking our dogs several times a day, but we’re always walking ourselves.
It’s recommended by the Department of Health and Human Services that humans should get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity weekly. You should also spread out exercise over the course of a week, which is just over 20 minutes daily.
Even if you have a little chihuahua, you’re going to achieve that goal with a few walks around the block. Whether you’re going for a big hike outdoors or playing fetch inside, dogs keep us moving every single day.
There are also mental health benefits to dog ownership that affect your physical health. Just having a dog reduces your stress, isolation, and loneliness — things that have a major impact on long-term conditions.
For example, it was discovered that people with chronic back pain saw improvement in symptoms once they got a dog. This wasn’t because the pup gave great massages, instead it was the socialization with other humans that their dog brought into their life.
When you have a dog, you’re more likely to start chatting with other dog owners or dog lovers. Walking down the street will generate several conversations that curb loneliness. Hang out at a dog park and you’re bound to have even more social interactions.
For those who are more introverted, connecting through breed, rescue organizations or neighborhoods on social media can be a good outlet. Connecting about dogs can help connect us to larger communities of people.
Dogs that are specially trained as therapy supports can also people with mental health conditions. They’re usually breeds that are calm, gentle, and friendly with everyone. They won’t react to fast or loud movements and don’t get distracted easily.
There are many certification programs and this allows dogs to visit hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and areas that have undergone a traumatic event (e.g. earthquake). Some people are helped by simply petting a dog, while others work on skills like caring and training.
This sense of love and accomplishment has been proved to combat depression, anxiety, PTSD, and other disorders. Our dogs love to get a good belly rub, and it turns out that this gesture helps us too. As offices are becoming more dog-friendly, many employees report that it’s easier to handle workplace stress when there’s a pup roaming around the conference room. This can also apply to your remote work situation.
It’s proven that dogs make our lives better, healthier, and longer — but that doesn’t mean you should rush out and adopt one right away. You can be negatively impacted if you don’t choose the right dog breed for your lifestyle. Having to surrender a dog can cause great pain that’s hard to recover from.
It’s a serious undertaking to be a pet parent and you should do as much research as possible before bringing your new dog home. Being prepared, whether that’s with the right gear or the mindset that you’ll be woken up by a wet tongue, can make or break for your experience. Once you’re settled, however, it’s a bond like nothing else.
Kerri-Lynn McAllister is the founder and CEO of Pawzy.