Motivational Mates

Three-quarters of dog owners agree regular walks boost their mood

Research from The Kennel Club shows the positive impact dogs have on both mental and physical health, not only through providing a source of comfort, but by keeping them active and giving them a routine.

  • Three-quarters of dog owners say walking their dog improves their mood and well-being
  • Older generations see the most significant benefits, with more than four in five crediting their dogs with keeping them active
  • Two-thirds of owners also credit their dog for improved fitness and for becoming more active

This year’s Mental Health Awareness Week which took place in May, focused on the importance of moving more for mental health, and this research demonstrates how dog ownership can play an integral part in that, with more than three-quarters (76%) of owners agreeing that walking their dog improves their mood and well-being.

Furthermore, while the positive impact of dog companionship on both mental and physical health were felt across all age groups, older age groups were the most impacted, with four in five (82%) of those aged 45-54, and 80% of those over 55, claiming that their dog helps their mental health by keeping them active. Similarly, two thirds (66%) of all owners agree their dog helps them become fitter and healthier, while 65% say they have become more active since owning a dog.

And it’s not just the physical benefit of dog walks that owners credit with improving their mental health – three-quarters (73%) acknowledge that their dog helps their mental health by giving them a routine.

Emma Bryden, from Ayrshire, knows first-hand how motivational and beneficial dogs can be for providing an active routine, and how this can positively impact mental health. She credits her dogs Shahla and Lana, for being by her side through significant life events, including depression and an autism diagnosis, and her relationship with her dog has even seen her carve out a career as an agility trainer.

Talking of how her dogs help her, Emma said: “My dogs obviously keep me active with agility and daily walks, but they’ve also helped me to come off antidepressant medication for the first time in over ten years. There’s no way I would have been able to do that without keeping physically active through agility and spending time with them.

“There have been so many times when agility has been the only highlight of my life and spending time in a friendly and fun environment has made all the difference to keep going.”

Beyond exercise, dogs prove to be a tonic for all aspects of our wellbeing:

  • Almost eight in ten (77%) owners say their dog provides unconditional love and comfort
  • Three-quarters (73%) find that their dog helps to relieve feelings of loneliness
  • And 72 per cent agree their dog helps to relieve feelings of anxiety.

Bill Lambert, spokesperson for The Kennel Club said: “While we know how invaluable the companionship provided by our four-legged friends is, this research shows just how much dogs can enrich our lives, not only through providing unconditional love and solace through tough times, but also through keeping us active, which in turn provides a wealth of benefits for our mental health.

“There are plenty of opportunities to keep moving with our canine companions, which isn’t limited to just regular daily walks. From the fast-paced agility, to learning a heelwork to music routine, there are different activities to suit all ages and abilities.”

As part of Mental Health Awareness Week, The Kennel Club celebrated the positive effect that dogs can have on our mental well-being.

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