Loneliness Awareness Week is a week dedicated to creating supportive communities, through conversations with your loved ones all about loneliness. The feeling of loneliness is a natural one, that most people will feel at some point in their lives – we are inherently social creatures. By creating these conversations and talking about our feelings, we can support each other.
However, it wouldn’t be a Wild at Heart Foundation blog post without the mention of our four-legged friends. Now, research has found that there is no difference between pet owners who live alone and non-owners who live alone. There are plenty of articles that suggest, however, that owning a dog helps with companionship, your physical health, and your mental health.
Loneliness is an extremely big issue in the UK, with about a third of people feeling socially isolated and lonely. It is rife within the older generation; however, it does not discriminate. Feeling lonely can affect young people, single parents and those with disabilities and the Royal Voluntary Service has reported that 1 in 3 men feel lonely at least once a week.
There are plenty of campaigns out there that are looking to tackle the loneliness epidemic including The Campaign to End Loneliness and The Jo Cox Foundation’s Commission on Loneliness. It is interesting to note, however, that 80% of single people reported that after just one month of getting a four-legged friend, they felt less lonely.
Dogs provide us with a special kind of companionship. Although they don’t provide conversation, they offer you a sense of emotional well-being due to their unconditional love. This makes them extra special company for those living alone.
Owning a dog also opens your world up to a whole new level of companionship – human companionship. The need for walking your dog and giving them exercise is crucial to being a good pet owner. Dog walks are a fantastic opportunity to meet other dog owners, sparking conversations and even friendships. Joining breed clubs or rescue groups allows you to meet like-minded people with a passion for your chosen dog breed or your mission of rescuing and adopting dogs. They also in turn provide support and create a community around you.
Loneliness has been linked with health issues such as high blood pressure, stress, anxiety, and dementia. Stroking a dog, however, has been known to reduce high blood pressure and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. So next time you feel extra stressed or anxious, have a cuddle with your pup. It will make all the difference.
As we have mentioned, dogs need regular exercise and taking your dog for a walk ensures you’re getting plenty of exercise as well. Walking your dog and playing games with them encourages not only your dog to be active but also will support your health and well-being.
So if you’re feeling lonely, consider spending more time with dogs. Cuddles and unconditional love, meeting with dog owners and creating a sense of calm and relaxation are just a small fraction of the benefits of owning a dog. Not only does owning a dog benefit you, but rescuing and rehoming a dog in need will make a huge difference in its life. Read more about How a Happy and Healthy Home Will Benefit Your Dog
However, we appreciate that owning a dog is not always achievable and may not fit in with your circumstances. There are plenty of other ways of interacting with dogs such as; fostering, borrowing a dog for walks or even dog sitting. Barking Mad offer dog-sitting services and they have spoken about how dog-sitting could be the cure for some people’s loneliness. It creates temporary companionship and the opportunity to meet like-minded dog lovers.
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