Science Proves Dog Owners Are More Attractive – Here’s Why

Introduction

Can simply owning a dog really make someone more attractive and happier? According to research, dog owners tend to be more extroverted, agreeable, and conscientious than non-dog owners. In fact, one study found that dog owners smiled more, laughed more, and experienced a 300% increase in oxytocin levels after spending time with their dogs. This compounds with other research showing dog owners have lower blood pressure, cortisol levels, and stress in general. It’s no wonder a growing body of evidence suggests dogs truly provide happiness and wellbeing benefits for their owners.

Physical Health Benefits

Owning a dog encourages people to exercise more and can lead to increased physical fitness. Studies have shown that dog owners tend to have lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and a much healthier weight than non-dog owners.1 Dogs require walking, playing, and other forms of exercise, so owning a dog motivates their human companions to engage in more physical activity. People with dogs take their pets for walks, go for runs, play fetch and other active games, and get outside more in general. One study found that dog owners walked an average of 300 minutes per week, compared to non-dog owners who walked an average of 168 minutes per week.2 The extra motivation to exercise and added daily movement from owning a dog leads to improved cardiovascular health, better weight management, and increased fitness levels for their owners.

a person walking their dog

Mental Health Benefits

Owning a dog can have significant mental health benefits. Studies show that pet owners have lower rates of anxiety, depression, and loneliness compared to non-pet owners (The Health and Mood-Boosting Benefits of Pets). Caring for a pet provides companionship and gives people a sense of purpose. The unconditional love of a dog can help reduce feelings of isolation.

Specifically, dogs can help reduce anxiety and depression. Interacting with dogs increases the levels of the hormone oxytocin which promotes bonding and trust (Pets and mental health). Petting a dog has been shown to lower cortisol levels, helping people feel calmer. Additionally, dogs provide daily structure and routine which can alleviate symptoms of depression.

In summary, studies show dogs provide companionship that reduces loneliness, anxiety, and depression. The act of caring for a pet gives people purpose. Dogs can improve mental health through increased oxytocin, reduced cortisol, and by providing routine.

Social Benefits

Taking dogs on walks and to dog parks leads to more social interactions and opportunities to meet new people. Studies show that dog owners are more likely to engage in casual social conversations and meet their neighbors compared to non-dog owners. For example, a study by Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition found that 70% of dog owners met people in their neighborhood through their dog, and 80% made new friends while out walking their dog (source). Another study in PLoS One showed that dogs can act as catalysts for social interaction, providing their owners with more opportunities to meet people and make friends in their local community (source). Dog owners report having more social support, more friends and acquaintances they feel close to, and deeper friendships compared to non-dog owners. The social lubrication effect provided by dogs helps break down barriers and gives owners an easy conversation starter about their pet.

a person meeting neighbors while walking their dog

Responsibility Factor

Owning and caring for a dog shows that a person is responsible and can make long-term commitments. According to a 2021 study published in the Journal of Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management, people perceive individuals who act responsibly as more attractive relationship partners (https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0971685820973522). Dog owners must be responsible for providing food, water, shelter, exercise, affection, training, grooming, and veterinary care. This high level of duty and obligation demonstrates loyalty, maturity, and reliability.

Additionally, dogs are dependent on owners for 10-15 years. The willingness to take on such a long-term commitment also signals attractiveness, according to research from IE Business School (https://www.researchgate.net/publication/306028306_Corporate_social_responsibility_and_organizational_attractiveness_implications_for_talent_management). People who cannot commit to a dog’s needs likely struggle with other types of commitment as well. Therefore, dog ownership indicates someone who follows through on responsibilities over the long haul.

Confidence Boost

Dog owners tend to have higher levels of confidence compared to non-dog owners. According to a study published in Frontiers in Veterinary Science, dog owners scored higher on measures of self-esteem than cat owners and non-pet owners (https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fvets.2020.00552). The strong bond formed between dogs and their owners can provide a boost to an owner’s self-confidence. Dogs offer unconditional love and acceptance which can make their owners feel valued and worthy. Taking on the responsibility of caring for a dog can also increase feelings of purpose and self-efficacy. Additionally, the social interactions facilitated by dog ownership may help owners develop greater social confidence over time. By boosting an owner’s self-esteem and reducing social anxiety, dogs have a measurable positive impact on human confidence.

a happy person with their dog

Stress Reduction

Having a dog can have powerful stress-reducing effects. Studies have shown that simply petting a dog can lower cortisol levels in the body. Cortisol is a hormone released in response to stress, so lower levels indicate relaxation. One study found that cortisol levels decreased significantly in university students after they interacted with dogs for just 5-24 minutes (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6826684/).

Playing with dogs causes the brain to release oxytocin, serotonin, prolactin and dopamine – all hormones that promote positive feelings. This chemical response helps explain why time spent with a dog can provide a mood boost and relieve anxiety. Dog owners get to regularly experience these hormonal benefits and reductions in stress when they interact and play with their pets.

a person petting and playing with their dog

Increased Empathy

Studies have shown that dog owners tend to score higher on measures of empathy than non-dog owners. For example, a 2019 study published in Frontiers in Psychology found that dog owners were more emotionally in-tune with their pets, demonstrating greater empathetic accuracy [1]. This emotional connection and ability to understand a dog’s inner emotional state suggests dog owners have higher overall empathy.

Additionally, a 2021 study in PLOS One concluded that dog ownership was positively associated with various measures of empathy, including emotional contagion and empathic concern [2]. The researchers theorized that caring for a pet may enhance an owner’s general capacity for empathy and understanding others’ feelings.

The reasoning is that dog owners must be attentive to their pet’s nonverbal cues and body language, which strengthens their ability to pick up on subtle emotional signals in other people as well. This constant practice of empathizing with their dog appears to make dog owners more sensitive overall.

Trustworthiness

Research has shown that people perceive dog owners as more trustworthy than non-dog owners. One study published in The Conversation found that the presence of a dog can increase perceptions of trustworthiness, even among strangers (https://theconversation.com/how-the-presence-of-pets-builds-trust-among-people-176769). The researchers posit this may be because dogs are seen as altruistic, loyal, and uncomplicated, so their owners are viewed as possessing similar positive qualities.

Another study in Frontiers in Psychology revealed that dog owners were rated as more trustworthy and responsible than people without pets (https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2022.903647). Participants were shown photos of people with and without dogs and asked to rate their traits. The dog owners were consistently ranked as more trustworthy, suggesting that people unconsciously associate dog guardianship with reliability and integrity.

Conclusion

To summarize, there are several compelling reasons why dog owners may be perceived as more attractive. Dog ownership can positively impact physical health through increased exercise. It also boosts mental health by reducing stress, anxiety, and loneliness while increasing oxytocin, dopamine, and feelings of responsibility. Socially, dog owners meet new people during walks and at dog parks. The caretaking role attracts potential partners by signaling nurturing personality traits. Confidence also grows by training and socializing a dog. At the same time, empathy increases through the human-animal bond. Altogether, the combination of better physical health, improved mental state, expanded social network, upstanding moral values, strength of character, and warmth of personality make dog owners more content, engaged, and confident versions of themselves – hence contributing to their outward attractiveness.

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