A new survey of 2,000 dog owners shows 66% of pet parents say their dog has a better social life than they do. More than half say their dog has more friends.
While 85% worry their pets haven’t gotten enough socialization with other dogs during the pandemic, six in 10 dog parents say their dogs get to see their friends more often than before.
Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of ACANA Wholesome Grains, the poll shows the average American dog made three new pup friends during quarantine and four new human friends due to Zoom and FaceTime.
“Dogs have been the saving grace for so many of us during this strange and stressful year,” said Jennifer Beechen, vice president of marketing for ACANA Wholesome Grains. “So it’s heartwarming to see owners are sharing that puppy love with friends and family, even if they haven’t been able to convene in person as often.”
Other survey findings:
- 38% of dogs went on more playdates.
- 70% of dogs eat with their owners.
- 60% of dogs eat better than their owners.
Dogs are social creatures
Canines are pack animals, and most enjoy spending time with other dogs and people. And getting that exposure is crucial to helping your dog develop. All dogs need early and ongoing socialization.
Too many people think dogs only need to be socialized when they are puppies, but dogs need ongoing socialization throughout their lives.
Benefits of ongoing socialization include:
Easing anxiety: Dogs or puppies who are not adequately socialized can be timid, shy, fearful, or anxious. Dogs that have been socialized feel less anxiety when exposed to new situations and people.
Building confidence: Confident dogs are less likely to be aggressive and are eager to learn and, therefore, easier to train.
Creating health and happiness: Dogs that spend too much time alone rarely get the exercise, play, and outdoor exposure they need to be happy and healthy. Social dogs feel less stress, are less likely to be depressed, and spend more time burning energy having fun.
Getting your dog out also improves a dog owner’s social life. Studies show that people are more likely to meet and talk to their neighbors while walking with their dogs, especially newcomers to the neighborhood. People are also more likely to start a conversation with someone who has a dog because they see them as more approachable and friendly. After all, what dog parent doesn’t want to talk about their fur baby?
People who have dogs also are more likely to meet fellow dog parents by participating in activities like obedience training or agility classes.
Natural exercise motivation
Research shows dog owners benefit as much or more than their dogs from daily walks.
A British study shows dog owners exercised their pets an average of 5 hours and 38 minutes per week. By comparison, people without dogs exercised an average of 1 hour and 20 minutes per week. Even worse, the British study found 47 percent of non-dog owners got no exercise.
A Michigan State University study shows people who walk their dogs were 34 percent more likely to meet federal benchmarks on physical activity.
Dogs also boost their owners’ immune systems and help them stave off depression.
Dogs are natural mood enhancers. It’s impossible to be in a bad mood when greeted by a dog wiggling with joy. Spending time with dogs lowers blood pressure, reduces stress, and releases oxytocin, the feel-good chemical that helps mothers bond with their infants.
Food is love, and food is social
The OnePoll survey shows 70% of dogs eat with their owners and that those surveyed said 60% of their dogs eat better than they do.
“With so many more opportunities to show fido appreciation — in the form of extra treats, walks, and playdates — it’s pretty much impossible for owners not to resist the temptation to let their dogs indulge a bit,” Beechen says. “But one of the best ways we can say thank you to our pets for the comfort they bring is by making sure we’re feeding them the right thing. Seeking out the quality nutrition and ingredients your pet needs in their food is key to making sure they’ll continue to be by your side for whatever the future has in store.”
Unfortunately, during the pandemic, dogs, like many people, gained weight. Studies from Hill’s Pet Nutrition and Banfield Pet Hospital show pets’ pandemic weight gain was fueled by too many treats and not enough exercise.
Hill Pet Nutrition study highlights:
- 33 percent of pet parents with an overweight pet blame the pandemic for weight gain
- 53 percent give their pets treats for no reason
- 56 percent of veterinarians say occasional treats are OK, but 91 percent urge pet owners to give fewer table scraps.
Bottom line: Get a dog to improve your social life
Dogs make great companions and are usually eager to make new human and canine friends.
Having a dog helps people create a positive first impression when meeting someone new.
Sara B. Hansen has spent 20-plus years as a professional editor and writer. She’s also the author of The Complete Guide to Cocker Spaniels. She decided to create her dream job by launching DogsBestLife.com in 2011. Sara grew up with family dogs, and since she bought her first house, she’s had a furry companion or two to help make it a home. She shares her heart and home with Nutmeg, a Pembroke Welsh Corgi. Her previous dogs: Sydney (September 2008-April 2020), Finley (November 1993-January 2008), and Browning (May 1993-November 2007). You can reach Sara @ [email protected].