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The “Pet Effect”

Numerous studies have shown that dogs have an incredibly positive impact on human health, both physically and mentally. Decreased blood pressure, decreased cholesterol levels, and increased socialization have become known as the “pet effect.” These effects are so widely recognized that the benefits of owning a pet are even listed on the Centers for Disease Control’s website.

Health Benefits of Owning a Dog

There is a direct correlation between increased dog walking and increased heart health. Regular walks can also provide regular exposure to green spaces, reducing stress levels in humans. This increased activity often turns into increased socialization. Dog owners tend to socialize with their neighbors far more than people who don’t own pets. 

Dogs also contribute to their family’s mental health and well-being. Oxytocin and endorphins are released in both humans and dogs through physical contact, and even just eye contact. These effects can accumulate over a period of time and provide the same emotional stability of a supportive human relationship.

Keeping You and Your Dog Connected Throughout the Day

Since dogs have such important and beneficial relationships with their owners, Atlantic K9 provides clients with photos of their dogs playing in all programs: daycare, boarding, and boot camp. This service is intended to provide clients with peace of mind. Clients enjoy candid, heartwarming shots of dogs high-fiving each other and like to joke about the dogs’ play habits and playmates documented in these photos. In addition to being well-supervised, most of the dogs in AK9’s programs are already trained, and there is peace of mind in knowing that your dog is in a comfortable place where he can continue to learn and socialize safely with other dogs. Additionally, the end of a work day or week of play when a client reunites with their dog always brings excitement and joy for both human and dog.

Dogs as Therapy

Some of these dogs are also working members of the Atlantic K9 family. They socialize with other dogs in the yard and are used for Atlantic K9’s training and breeding programs. AK9 has occasionally used these dogs as therapy dogs for family and friends, and Kathleen observed that “going for a walk with an animal always brings out love and joy. AK9 animals help in the moment with that person.”

This therapeutic effect is apparent when Atlantic K9 takes new litters of puppies (6-8 weeks old) out into the world to socialize them. Whether at a horse show or a school visit, people melt when they see the puppies and there is a great deal of energy and excitement in anticipating the puppies’ arrival. Kathleen noticed that “there is an instant response wherever I’ve gone with puppies.” Atlantic K9 has used these puppies, along with other well-trained dogs, to aid people who are afraid of dogs. Puppies are small and there is little worry about what harm they could cause at such a young age. Often on school visits, fearful kids sit and observe from a distance, but after watching their classmates interact with them, they are able to join in and play with the puppies. Photos are even sent home as proof of the child’s progress in dealing with his or her fears.

Good Training Enhances the “Pet Effect”

Though there are many benefits of adding a dog to your family, a poorly trained or aggressive dog can also bring stress and headaches. Atlantic K9 noticed that teaching clients to communicate effectively with their dogs helps these clients enjoy the “pet effect.” Often a dog’s misbehavior is a result of miscommunication. Correcting these behaviors is a combination of educating the owner and working with the dog(s).

Atlantic K9 focuses on teaching all dog owners the skills they need to keep up the dog training at home, so that their dog will behave as well in everyday life as they do when in dog training lessons or at daycare. This change in behavior significantly decreases the stress and anxiety caused by miscommunication and undesirable dog behaviors that both owner and dog were experiencing.  

The “pet effect” is just a new phrase to describe the positive impact dogs have on people’s lives. Whether providing companionship, socialization, or opportunities to overcome fears or to increase communication, the many dogs of Atlantic K9 have left their paw prints on our lives. Dog training can only increase your communication and bond with your dog, and help you fully enjoy this “pet effect.”

Guest Post by Ionelee Brogna

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