Dogs are the greatest BFFs for many reasons: They excitedly greet you at the door at the end of a long work day, are always there to listen, chill out and enjoy a PSL with you, and drag you (literally and figuratively) along on health-boosting walks. But the reason you love going on those outings isn’t just because it makes you feel happy—it’s because it makes your pup super happy too.
In a new study, researchers examined both interviews and written reflections of 26 dog owners about their dog-walking experiences. Findings reflected that people walk their dogs because it improves their (and their dog’s) happiness levels, with health and social benefits playing second fiddle for motivation. And, if the owner thought their dog wasn’t enjoying the walk due to being “lazy” or “old,” their own urge to walk declined.
Walking is used to meet the emotional needs of the owner as well as the needs of the dog.
“It’s clear from our findings that dog walking is used to meet the emotional needs of the owner as well as the needs of the dog,” said lead study author Carri Westgarth, PhD, in a press release. “Possible key points for future interventions to increase dog walking are to promote how it may increase the dog’s, and thus the owner’s, happiness.”
So, there you have it: another study that touts the wellness benefits of having a pup. But, if you’re not ready for the dog-parent plunge, you can still reap some cuteness benefits from by ogling the Instagram accounts of these it-dogs.