How your pet can help you to make friends
Pets are believed to help us become far more sociable and make more friends, but why does this happen and is getting a cat or dog a guaranteed way to improve our social circle?
Pets open doors
It’s not just the traditional boy meets girls love story which can be assisted by pets, individuals who crave companionship will also find that most pet walkers tend to be a friendly bunch.
Animals allow even the most shy humans to make contact with others and break down barriers. They also provide companionship for those who find it difficult to interact or share common ground with other people.
As well as helping you to make friends and providing all the social benefits which go with that, pets can also potentially improve your health.
Studies carried out by Harvard University found pet owners were likely to live longer than those who didn’t have animals. Owning a pet is a way of building up social connections and the researchers discovered people with solid social networks are “50 per cent more likely to live longer than those with a limited social network”.
Many older people who live on their own suffer from depression and feelings of isolation, but one way to overcome this problem is to welcome a pet into your life. Not only is this a great way to encourage visitors, if the pet owner suffers from mobility problems younger members of the community can help them out by assisting with their care of the animal.
Scientific studies carried out by the University of Western Australia back up the importance of pet ownership and social interaction, with Dr Lisa Woods saying pet ownership “appears to be a significant factor for facilitating social interaction” and friendship in a neighbourhood.
Age is not a barrier
Pets don’t just help you make new friends – they help you connect with people of all ages and from all backgrounds. When walking your dog you may speak to individuals you’d never normally come across and this can broaden your mind and allow you to have a more diverse circle of associates and friends.
Animals are healers
It’s not just dogs and cats who have this effect, many animals can help people feel at ease and encourage social connections. As a result, care homes across the UK have started to encourage pet visits by local representatives and animal charities.
This gives their residents something to talk about with fellow residents, visitors and healthcare providers, It has also been found to provide therapeutic affects for those suffering from ailments such as dementia and anxiety.
Where will you meet new friends?
If you have a pet and are interested in meeting new friends, there are a few places where you’ll find this possible. Local parks and areas where dogs are walked is the most obvious option, but pet shops, veterinary surgeries and even animal training classes can provide a good opportunity for social interaction and put you in touch with new and interesting people.