Dogs may be man’s best friend, but a new survey of 2,000 dog owners shows that they’re also good for helping their owners make new friends too.
The survey says that almost half of dog owners have made friends while on their “walkies.” In fact, people say they have met an average of four new people though their pets while out for walks or at puppy training classes.
The results found that 54% of dog owners believe having their pet has boosted their confidence and made it easier for them to talk to strangers.
Pet owners have also experienced reduced stress levels, more time outdoors, and general health improvements. Their love lives have been positively affected, too, as one sixth of participants say they know someone who has met their partners through owning a dog.
On average, owners spend more than 7-and-a-half hours a week outside walking their pup, while one in 10 even spend up to 10 hours.
But more than one-third admitted they prefer going on a walk with a human companion and, on average, spend one hour a week arranging outings with fellow dog walkers.
Similarly, this has led to the dogs themselves having a vast social life too, with 60% of owners believing their pet has “dog friends”.
In fact, the average pooch is considered to have three friends, with more than one quarter them having a “walking buddy”.
Beyond canines, 3 in 10 dogs also have other animal companions, the majority of which are cats – but some respondents even said their pet is friends with a horse and rabbit.
Furthermore, 8 in 10 believe it is “important” for dogs to have friends that they can regularly see and play with. A further one-third of participants admitted to arranging play dates for themselves and their pooch.
Common places for dogs to meet other pups were found to be in the local area, with 63% often bumping into the same animals when they are out and about. One in 10 have interacted with fellow pooches while on holiday at the beach and in walking groups. Similarly, one in 10 owners have made friends while on holiday with their dog and others have met new people at the vets and training classes.
The survey was commissioned by children’s TV channel Boomerang, which launched its new “Mighty Mike” show earlier this week.
“Mighty Mike” follows the haphazard and hilarious efforts of a sophisticated pug named Mike as he tries to befriend the dog next door and defend his house against pesky neighbors.
“Dogs that mix nicely together can form strong bonds and learn a variety of social skills from each other that humans may find hard to spot or recognize,” said Nick Jones, MA Dog Behaviorist.
“Similarly, dogs are the perfect ice breaker to start conversations with people you might otherwise pass by and are proven to bring numerous health benefits along the way, such as improvements in mental and physical health, which this research has also shown.”
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