Want to meet your neighbours? Grab your dog.
Pets bring neighbourhoods together, according to the largest international study on the social benefits of owning pets.
Researchers from the University of Western Australia have found that pet ownership leads to closer connections between neighbours and stronger social ties within local communities.
The global study looked at over 2,600 pet owners in Perth, San Diego, Portland and Nashville. They measured the feelings of helpfulness, friendliness, trust and engagement that people felt from their neighbours and neighbourhoods. Those who had pets measured higher in all four areas.
Being a pet owner was the third most common way that survey respondents said they met people in their neighbourhoods. Number one was by being neighbours, number two was by using local streets and parks. Pet owners were 60% more likely to get to know people in their local area that they didn’t know before.
The health benefits of dogs are well reported- increased physical activity, which can help you lose or maintain weight; lowered blood pressure; and reduced stress. But now we have another indirect benefit, dogs improve health by improving social connectedness. People who have solid social networks are 50% more likely to live longer than those with limited social networks.
To sum it all up; if you want to be happier, more social, skinnier, fitter and live longer, get a dog or borrow one from your neighbour. No wonder we are obsessed with these adorable animals.