Dog owners have better health, happiness and social lives than those who do not have dogs – according to a new study.
Researchers undertook an in-depth social study of dog owners and non-dog owners – and revealed those with dogs get more exercise, are happier in their work lives and make friends more easily than non-dog owners.
The study revealed that the average dog owner walks a staggering 11 miles per week, whereas non-dog owners walk just nine, meaning dog owners walk on average 96 miles per year MORE than non-dog owners.
That is the equivalent of over 192,000 extra steps – the same distance as walking from London to Bath.
And those with dogs enjoyed 11 hours a week of exercise compared to just seven hours for non-dog owners.
According to the comprehensive study – timed to coincide with RSPCA Vitality Big Walkies – dog owners also have happier homes with 31 percent describing their relationship as ‘brilliant’, compared to just a quarter of non-dog owners.
Over half (56 percent) of dog owners get to the office in a good mood, compared to just 49 percent of those who don’t have a dog.
And they also enjoy an extra ‘happy day’ per month – with the average number of days we are truly happy each month emerging as 17 for dog owners.
In terms of sociability, dog owners strike up conversations with strangers SIX times per month on average – compared to just three times for non-dog owners.
The doors are always open to friends and neighbours of dog owners, who host dinner parties or drinks evenings three times a month- compared to just once for non-doggie folk.
The study also asked the panel to choose descriptions they felt fitted their personalities – with the top three key words chosen by dog owners being ‘happy’, ‘fun’ and ‘energetic’.
However, those who don’t own dogs opted for ‘stressed’, ‘generous’ and ‘tidy’ as their top three personality traits.
The RSPCA and health and life insurer Vitality have teamed up to launch this year’s Big Walkies, an initiative that encourages dog owners and their pets to be active while raising money for animal welfare at the same time.
RSPCA Chief Executive Jeremy Cooper said: “We are a nation of dog lovers and here at the RSPCA we weren’t surprised to learn that having a dog can make you happier and healthier.
“We are thrilled Vitality is on board to help us spread the message that walking your dog is fantastic exercise for both owner and pooch.
“That is why we are delighted to be a part of Big Walkies, alongside Vitality, to get the nation out there and enjoying dog walks up and down the country.”
Neville Koopowitz, CEO of Vitality, said: “We are delighted to be partnering with the RSPCA for Big Walkies. Mounting evidence shows it’s the small things that make a big difference to our long term health and walking the dog is one simple way for people to increase their daily step count and ensure a healthy lifestyle.
“Our own research has found nearly three in five dog owners exercise more now they have a pet and many of our Vitality members have told us how important their dog is in helping them enjoy a healthier and more active life.”
The study, carried out among 1,534 adults and split by those who have dogs as pets and those who don’t, found although there are stark differences between their behaviours and personalities – overall both groups said they were “mostly happy”.