What do you love about your dog? If your answer is everything, you’re not alone.
Dogs and people began living together 15,000 years ago when dogs followed people’s migration throughout East Asia. Dogs are social pack animals who thrive off of attention and affection, making them a prime candidate for a person’s best friend. Most dog owners, including myself, will tell you that their dog is a family member.
Dogs provide us with unconditional love and companionship. They’re at our sides when we’re sick, and they always seem to know when we need a little extra affection. They love us without judgment, even when we are ignoring them or not feeding them a second dinner. Dogs seem to understand us on another level that transcends language.
It’s hard to narrow down all the reasons my dog is my best friend, but here are nine reasons that dogs make the very best friends.
#1: Dogs have distinct personalities
In my time as a dog owner and as a dog sitter, I’ve come to realize that every dog has a very distinct personality (there have been studies about this!). Every dog has unique quirks that take time to get to know. Some are sassy and a little bossy; some are super chill. Some dogs love to fetch, and some dogs don’t care about toys at all.
My pug Maximus was goofy. He only played with humans and other pugs. He would get super excited to go through the Starbucks drive-thru, loved going hiking in a backpack, and could only sleep if he had a pillow to rest his head.
My mini schnauzer Huxley has a mind of his own; he’s incessantly curious and has an opinion about everything. He gets very excited about walks, his morning meal, air blowing in his face, and his stuffed alligator. He doesn’t like cuddling at night and will grunt when something happens that he doesn’t like.
#2: Dogs just wanna hang out
Whether it’s relaxing on the couch or going on a drive with his head out the window, my dog is happy to be anywhere with me. He’s always by my side, following me from room to room to see what I’m doing (or if I have snacks). Dogs tend to bond with the person who gives them the most attention and pick a favorite person.
#3: They get SO EXCITED about everything
Seeing your dog so excited makes you feel excited just by being around him. Whenever anything remotely exciting happens, like a leash appears in my hand or the refrigerator opens, my mini schnauzer is bouncing up and down with excitement.
#4: Dogs keep us active
I don’t know about you, but without my dog, I’d go on way fewer walks. Your dog might be the sole reason you’re getting 10k steps per day. Most dogs benefit from between 30 minutes to two hours of physical activity per day, which means you’ll be right there with them getting exercise too. And for those times when you can’t join your dog for a walk, you can always book an awesome dog walker.
#5: Dogs make us laugh
Whether they’re playing with their favorite toy or just doing something goofy with their paws, their lust for life always makes us giggle. The playful, uninhibited nature of dogs appears as entertainment for us—admittedly I spend a lot of time staring at my dog, who seems to entertain me by just existing. Dogs have a natural inclination to play games like hide-and-seek, fetch, and tug.
#6: Dogs love attention
No matter what, your dog wants your love and attention. Whether your pup cuddles up in your lap, leans against your leg or shoulder, or wags their tail when you look at them, they’ll take any attention they can get. Dogs express a wide range of emotions, which helps us relate to them even more.
#7: Dogs provide emotional support
Dogs make everyone feel happy. Just touching your dog releases oxytocin (the love hormone) in you and your dog. Whether your dog gives you the love you need after a hard day or if they’re an official emotional support animal, dogs have been scientifically proven to help us.
Researchers found that pets could make their owners feel that someone empathized with their struggles. “In fact, in some cases, pets were described as therapeutic,” the study states. Dogs help develop self-sufficiency and feelings of empowerment: “Pets provided a way in which patients were able to exercise control, feel that they mattered, and could make a difference in the life of another living thing.”
There are few things in the world that bring people together as dogs do. Dogs are conversation starters. Strangers will come up to me to ask how old my dog is and compliment his eyebrows; little kids will ask if they can pet him.
#8: Dogs are adorable when they sleep
There’s an unexpected side effect of having a dog: thousands of pictures of them asleep. Adult dogs spend an average of 12 to 14 hours per day sleeping. Dogs always look so adorable when they sleep: the on-the-back spread, the superman, the fall-off-the-couch, and the curled-up donut.
#9: Dogs love us unconditionally
No matter what you do, your dog will love you. In a world that can be hard, knowing there’s a dog waiting for you to get home can help you get through the day.
As dogs and humans have developed a deep relationship over thousands of years, dogs have become part of our families. We take pride in our dogs, spoiling them with treats, showing them off, and dressing them up. We play with them, hold them close, and rely on them for support.
Dogs have proven themselves to be loyal, kind, understanding, and full of spirit. They greet us happily after what may have been the worst day of our lives and make us feel better with a wag of their tail.
For all the reasons we love dogs, both obvious and intangible, we’re so lucky to have them as best friends. If you take good care of your dog, socialize them, and respect their unique personality, they reward you with a lifetime of love.