Are Dog-Friendly Communities Healthier?
WE BELIEVE Wagtown dog-friendly communities are healthier due to increased physical activity and improved emotional health. Study after study confirms what we already know: dogs are good for our bodies and minds.
Evidence dates the first human-canine relationships, beginning with the domestication of the first dogs, as far years back as 36,000 years ago.The oldest known homo sapiens, modern humans, are only 350,000 years old. That means dogs and humans have been growing and shaping each other for as much as 10% of all human history. It’s little wonder then, that this ancient relationship extends beyond head-scratches and belly rubs -- there’s a physiological element that science is only now beginning to understand.
Research on Health Impacts of Dog-Friendly Communities
The research below is just a small sampling of the impact dogs and, by extension, dog-friendly communities have on human health.
“Studies have shown that having a pet can help increase fitness levels, relieve stress, lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and boost overall happiness and well-being. Pets also provide social support, which is an important factor in helping you stick with new healthy habits.” (American Heart Association)
“Given the number of homes that have dogs, strategies that promote dog walking could be effective at increasing physical activity levels among a significant proportion of the population. Maximizing the potential for dog walking to positively influence the health of individual people (and dogs) will only occur through implementing programs with broad population-level reach. Policies that facilitate dog walking at the community and population levels, such as “dogs allowed” places, off-leash zones, and dog-friendly built environments and parks, may contribute to greater physical activity through dog walking.” (National Institutes of Health)
“…pets improve heart health, alleviate depression, increase well-being, support child health and development, and contribute to healthy aging, as well as assist in treating a range of conditions from autism spectrum disorder to Alzheimer’s disease to post-traumatic stress disorder.97% of family practice doctors now believe there are health benefits to owning a pet.” (Psychology Today)
“Those who walked dogs were consistently more physically active than those who did not, regardless of environmental conditions. These large differences suggest that dog walking, where appropriate, can be a component of interventions to support physical activity in older adults.” (Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health)
Are Dog-Friendly Communities Safer?
WE BELIEVE Wagtown dog-friendly communities are safer due to increased foot traffic and community connections. People across America, even those without pooches, are choosing to move to dog-friendly communities because of the dog safety factor.
Dogs are attuned to the most acute variances in human behavior. While we might not always appreciate it, their barks, yips and growls are one of the oldest signs that something may not be right. But, the safety impact dogs and their owners can have on a community is often more than just noise. Dog owners are outside the home, taking walks, playing ball, relaxing in the yard during the day and standing watch at the door during late night trips to the ol’ puppy potty. In many ways, dog owners are the eyes, ears and noses of the community -- that makes dog-friendly communities safer.
Research on the Public Safety Impact of Dog-Friendly Communities
The research below is just a small sampling of the impact dogs and, by extension, dog-friendly communities have on public safety.
“... almost 60% of dog walkers feel safer when walking their dog. Research also suggests dog parks and build relationships that extend beyond the park. Dog owners are not only physically active on more days of the week, but the presence of dogs has neighbors feeling the area is more secure. Dr. Christian, of the School of Population Health, said dog walkers out in the neighborhood became the “eyes and ears on the street.” (School of Population Health)
“You can simply walk with a neighbor, exercise, or walk your dog in these areas and your presence alone can assist in deterring would be criminals from committing crime in your neighborhood. If lots of my neighbors do the same, it'll be a sign of civic health. We're all responsible for safeguarding our neighborhoods.” (The Atlantic)
“The study also highlights the broader community benefits of pet ownership. Almost 60% of dog walkers in Australia and the US reported feeling safer when walking with their dog. Women who walked their dogs were more likely to feel safer compared to men. Particularly in US study sites, dog walkers had a greater feeling of security and perceived higher levels of neighborhood…” (Waltham News)
“The stronger associations observed for dog walkers, may be related to the role of dog walking as a way of greater neighborhood surveillance and increased perceptions of safety within a community.” (Science Direct)
Do Dog-Friendly Communities Help Local Economies?
WE BELIEVE Wagtown dog-friendly communities are more economically vibrant. Dogs appeal to up and coming workforce candidates [fix]. Every day, more research reveals the power of the paw on workplace productivity.
Dog-friendly workplaces have been the rage in economic hotbeds like Silicon Valley for over a decade. Study after study has shown the positive impact of play, relaxation and non-linear thinking on workplace productivity. And, major companies -- which rarely make any decision without strong data to support it -- are taking notice across the U.S.
The economic impact of authentic dog-friendly policies on a community extends beyond the office, dog-friendly communities see benefits on mainstreet too. Dog owners spend money supporting and spoiling their pups, often at locally-owned pet-supply stores. There wouldn’t be artisanal dog treats, custom collars or kibble frosted pupcakes if there weren’t crazy dog owners (like us) out there buying them.
Research on Economic Impact of Dog-Friendly Communities
The research below is just a small sampling of the impact dogs and -- by extension -- dog-friendly communities have on the economic wellbeing of a region.
Spending too much time too close to a project, problem, or other work can inhibit productivity and cause unnecessary stress. Pets remind people to pause and step back from whatever they are involved in. Short walks, a little playtime, and temporary distractions allow mental breaks so as not to overwork and become stressed. (University of Southern California)
Bringing a dog to work is viewed as an incredible perk. Once someone can bring their canine companion on the job, it takes a long time before they’ll give that up. (USA Today)
Dog-Friendly Communities Support Humane Organizations & Policies
WE BELIEVE Wagtown dog-friendly communities are more humane because of strong animal cruelty legislation, the absence of breed profiling, and admirable support of rescue and adoption organizations. The concept of the dog as “man’s best friend” may be cliche, but there is one sense in which it is incredibly serious: like our human loved ones, dogs rely on us for protection, understanding and care.
At Wagtown, we firmly believe there can be no dog-friendly community where animal cruelty goes unpunished, where dogs are judged by their breed and not by their character, where adoption organizations are not adequately supported and where breeding is conducted without proper oversight standards.
Wagtown partners with local leaders around the U.S. to help create and certify dog-friendly communities. At the same time, we recognize that grass-roots organizing has made great strides in the humane care of dogs in many places around the country. See below for links to organizations and policies that are taking steps toward creating authentic and humane dog-friendly communities.
Are Dog-Friendly Communities More Diverse and Welcoming?
WE BELIEVE Wagtown dog-friendly communities are more welcoming to residents, workforces and visitors. As kids everywhere learned from Disney’s 101 Dalmations, dogs have a way of bringing people together. And, while we don’t suggest anyone attempt to raise puppies by the legion, we do believe there is an essential truth to the idea that communities built to help people connect with dogs also help people connect with each other.
Dog-friendly communities emphasize space to exercise and gather in public spaces. Authentic dog-friendly communities go even further, by helping people see past differences and look at our dogs and ourselves with understanding of everyone’s individuality and strength.
A study by the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University found that dogs at dog parks serve as “avatars,” allowing individuals to meet new people and navigate unfamiliar spaces through their pets. Further, the study found that demographics of park visitors did not seem to impact their ability or interest in forming relationships at dog parks.
How Dog-Friendly Communities Impact Diversity and Community Connection
Dog parks provide a place for owners to get information about local veterinarians, groomers and pet stores as well as referrals related to housing and employment” (Journalists Resource)
“People are deciding where to live, work and play based on dog-welcoming infrastructure and policies. This presents opportunities for park professionals to embrace this growing relevance driver.” (National Recreation and Parks Association)
“75% of pet-owning buyers who closed on a home this year would pass on their dream house if it weren’t right for their animals. Among the respondents, 87% said they took their pets’ needs into account when buying a home.” (National Association of Realtors)
How Do Dog-Friendly Communities Promote Responsible Dog Ownership?
WE BELIEVE Wagtown dog-friendly communities exemplify responsible pet ownership by registering, vaccinating and training dogs to be sociable and safe. While many dog owners can’t imagine a life without their pets, dogs literally rely on humans to become their best selves.
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, vaccinating your pet has long been considered one of the best ways to help them live a long, healthy life. And, dog vaccination plays an important role in human health as well. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, a person dies from rabies every ten minutes. Many of those deaths could be prevented through proper vaccination.
Creating an authentic and responsible dog-friendly community is about more than access to and utilization of veterinary services, however. Just like humans, dogs need care for their emotional and behavioral health. Proper socialization and obedience training are key to raising dogs that are a credit to their community — which, after all, is what dogs want as well.
Wagtown offers dog obedience training scholarships to help dog owners of all economic backgrounds raise safe and sociable pets.