A buzzing topic for dog owners is socializing your dog properly and positively to pups, people and places. Did you know that research shows that your dog actually does the reverse for you? Your dog helps your social life! A 2015 study published in “PLOS One” found that “pet owners were significantly more likely to get to know people in their neighborhood than non-pet owners” and studied how companion animals act as a catalyst for the formation of friendships and networks between humans. Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, your dog can expand your social circle! Here are some ways that your dog helps you meet and bond with people:
When you’re walking your dog, you find yourself chatting with other people outside about your dog and their pets. Suddenly everyone wants to meet your dog, learn his name and pet him. You’re on the other end of that leash so you’re part of that package. In turn, you learn and ask about their pets. Pretty soon you find that you call out “hello, Bruno” to your neighbor’s dog and know the pets’ names of everyone on your route - you should probably start asking the humans their names, too. After enough conversations, you’ve made new friends and may even walk your dogs together! Also, having a dog means you walk more often and will check out new places – the lake, a state park, a funky neighborhood or an outdoor artsy park with a walkway - that you wouldn’t likely explore if you didn’t have the dog as your companion.
2. Dog class
In dog class, a big part of the fun is talking to the other owners about their experiences with their dogs! Even more fun is when the instructor has you trade dogs for a few minutes so you can get the feel for training a dog who has a different skill set, different timing (is this dog more mellow or rocket fast compared to your dog?) and different strengths – this makes you appreciate all the lovely things your dog offers you! Often people exchange contact information with other students by the end of a six-week session so they can meet up for a hike, doggie play date or meal at a restaurant with a dog-friendly patio.
3. Dog errands
Whether you’re at the vet for a routine check-up or at the pet store to buy supplies, you may strike up a conversation with an employee or fellow shopper about your dog. Suddenly, you’ve made a new acquaintance. Sometimes those acquaintances turn into friends. Maybe you’ll end up inviting your favorite veterinarian and veterinary technician to your dog’s birthday party or bring them some birthday cake (for humans) to help celebrate your dog’s special day. Bam! You’ve increased your social network.
4. At work or at human-only social functions
Everyone always seems to be bonding while talking about their human children, home repairs and family events. But, wait, suddenly you can bond over talking about your beloved pets! Soon your coworkers and fellow social folks are regularly asking you about your dog as you ask about their lives. Dogs are such an amusing and positive part of people’s lives – plus, it’s much less intrusive to ask someone about her pet instead of her romantic relationship.
You meet new people when you take your dog with you to volunteer! Even better, you’re surrounded by fellow animal lovers who want to give back to society and have a good time. Check out this blog for ideas on how to volunteer with your dog.
6. Dates with your dog
You’ll often hear “May I pet your dog? What’s your dog’s name?” when you take your dog out and about for a date. Grabbing a cup of coffee with just your dog is fun because your dog is there…and it can spark conversations (about animals) with the cheerful folks from the next table! Check out more ideas for dates with your dog!
The common ground of being an animal lover really does drive social interactions and friendships. Grab your dog and his leash and go do an activity with your pup - let your dog socialize and bring out the best in you! Go dog-mingle!