Nurse Jill Brennan Cook probably didn’t imagine that her dog Maple would make her better at her job when she adopted her. She discovered, however, throughout her relationship that Maple provided precisely the kind of support to Jill that her patients needed from her. Maple’s exemplary behavior inspired her to be a better nurse.
Jill did not expect Maple to make her better at her career; she was only looking for a loving companion. Nevertheless, her dog Maple gave her so much more than she anticipated.
Dogs are our best cheerleaders
We live in a competitive, image-driven society where looks, style, and impressions can make or break a person’s confidence and self-esteem. All of the focus on superficial values is taxing on our souls and can leech a person of their self-confidence while provoking insecurity and anxiety.
A dog loves unconditionally. It does not care about what you wear, your hairstyle, how pretty your makeup is, how good your “elevator pitch” is, or how well you carry on a conversation. A dog wants to be with you and to be your friend. This attitude of unconditional acceptance coupled with a dog’s desire to be in the presence of other humans has become a beneficial tool for helping people to build confidence, which is one reason why your dog is the secret to your success.
For example, studies now show that dogs can help children learn how to read. Children often are embarrassed in front of others by the mistakes they make while learning to read aloud. But a quiet, furry friend will listen without judgment and help provide the emotional support necessary for kids to gain confidence. Dogs also are used to support children with autism and ADHD.
So the next time you are getting ready for a big scary presentation at work, consider practicing it in front of your dog a few times. Your dog might provide the kind of support you need to be successful.
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Dogs help us to be better humans
Dogs provide emotional and social development for people. They help teach personal responsibility and empathy. For pet owners who live alone, dogs provide a sense of purpose while warding off loneliness. They can also keep the brain more active by providing social interaction, reducing the effects of Alzheimer’s and dementia in seniors.
For those of us who are more shy or introverted, dogs provide opportunities for interacting with the community through dog walking and other pet-related activities. One study found that pet owners were 60% more likely to get to know new people than a non-pet owner. If you’re unsure how important that is, science affirms the value of friendship on a person’s overall resilience in life.
Dogs also help prisoners transition back into society by teaching empathy, responsibility, anger management, and social skills.
Dogs help us manage stress and anxiety
Stockbrokers are driven, ambitious, and competitive in their search for success, which is why the American Heart Association chose them to serve as participants in their study. The study revealed how adding a pet to your lifestyle can help reduce stress.
All of the participants had high blood pressure and could choose whether to add a pet to their treatment regimen. After six months, the brokers underwent a stress test. The results showed that the brokers who decided to have a pet in addition to medication had half as much of an increase in stress-related blood pressure than those who chose medicine only.
Therapy dogs are used with college students on campus, another group with high stress and anxiety levels. Stress management is an enormous factor in a person’s long term personal success. The ability to manage stress is due in part to the quality of our relationships and our physical and mental well-being, all of which can be supported by a dog’s love.
Dogs keep us safe and healthy
Canines are known for their guarding abilities and their heroic efforts for helping those in need. Dogs serve as stalwart sentries between danger and ourselves. They have been able to warn their homeowners of the dangers of fire and home invasion. They’ve also alerted their humans to oncoming seizures and even sniffed out cancers with a 95-99% accuracy rate. Dogs are our modern day superheroes.
There are countless stories from first responders, military service personnel and law enforcement about a dog’s super sense of smell that can detect explosives, find a lost child in the woods or a person buried in the rubble of an earthquake.
But even more than that, dogs can provide long term benefits to our safety and well being by helping us get more exercise and helping us manage our mental health. One study found that dog walkers were 20% more active than non-dog owners. Additionally, mental health experts assert that dogs can assist with treating depression by providing socialization, exercise and increasing a person’s sense of self-worth.
Dogs provide several hidden variables that can boost a person’s chances of winning at life. By promoting self-confidence, reducing stress and anxiety can show how your dog is the secret to your success. Dogs also help us stay active and take better care of ourselves and generally support our well-being. A dog can be a great hero in a time of danger or just a loyal friend — one who inspires us to be the best humans we can be.
– Paige A. Mitchell