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Pets are Good For Your Health: 7 Reasons Why

Updated: Mar 25, 2020

By: Logan Cohen, Professional Therapist & Online Life Coach

You might have heard that pets are good for our Health, but do you know WHY? And HOW that happens? Would you also like to hear a story about how the Founder of the Balanced Man Plan literally owes he and his Wife's Life to their pet dog?? If so, you are reading the right article.

Pets are Good For Your Health

#1 Reason - Pets are good for your health because they give us "unconditional love "

Family does not have to be limited to the relationships that connect you biologically, like your Parents, Spouse, kids, or extended Family. In Modern Society, we live more flexible lives and sometimes, People create a “family of choice.” Family of Choice is a term used to describe the People (or other non-Human Beings in the case of pets) who make up our inner circle of relationships.

This term has been around for a while in psychology and social sciences, but the online life coaching from Balanced Man Plan has made use of this term by using it to describe all of the Beings that meet our primary “Love & Belonging Needs.” These are the basic needs for connection that all Human Beings have - whether we are male or female. If you have not had the chance to be happily greeted by a household pet who is just SO excited to see you after you had a CRAPPY day, then we must say it now - we HIGHLY recommend it!

If you want to learn more about the role of Love and Belonging Needs in creating a healthy balance between your Self-Identity, Family Relationships, and Life Purpose, you will want to check out the Self-Guided Coaching Plans offered in those areas so you can get natural solutions in the privacy and comfort of your Home.

Pets are Good For Your Health

#2 Reason - Pets are good for your health because they provide perspective

Daily Life is hectic, sometimes even CHAOTIC. In order to cope with the natural chaos and a complicated Brain, Human Beings learn to protect ourselves by creating a “comfort zone” where we believe The World is most predictable. This comfort zone includes a collection of “defense mechanisms” that protect us from consciously being aware of what seems most painful and threatening outside of our comfort zone. Unless we challenge Self actively to leave our comfort zone and PLAN for things being a bit different, we are most likely to practice those defense mechanisms that keep us more comfortable in the moment, but ALSO BLOCK US from seeing our “True Self.”

Most People first learn these defense mechanisms as Kids while growing up with our Family or another Caregiver. Regardless of where you learned those old ways that protect you from your unconscious fears, a pet DOESN’T CARE about ANY of that… A family pet can literally FEEL when you are “off”, even before you do - and come on over to check in and/or give a bit of Love.

If you want to learn more about how this works specifically, you might want to check out our Self-Guided Coaching Plans on Balanced Family Life & Self-Identity so you can break through those old limits and learn to honor your True Self at your Core.

Pets are Good For Your Health

#3 Reason - Pets are good for your health because they help us expand our social network

You know that old phrase “birds of a feather flock together?” This means that People who have a lot in common tend to spend time together. While of course this is not ALWAYS the case, the likelihood that you will have personal interests in common with other People who own the same type of pet is a LOT higher than the random Person in front of you at Starbucks. For any of you that have ever been to a dog park, you know what I’m talking about…

Whether you own a more common pet like a dog that has public community spaces dedicated to their sole purpose or not, you might be surprised by the social networks that are just WAITING for you on the other side of like-minded pet owners. If you are not a fan of dog parks, or your pet of choice is a cat, rabbit, or other domesticated animal, you should click here to see if there is a “Meet Up” near you with your pet of preference in mind.

Whether or not you choose to go “meet-up” with a group of Human Beings that are more likely to share your personal interests, it is SO important that we have Friendships BEYOND our Family Relationships to support our Love and Belonging Needs.

While it’s great that we LOVE our Family, sometimes there are disagreements and even fights, making it important for us to “diversify our social portfolio,” so to speak. If you are ready to learn more about the biological function of Friendship for the health and wellness of Body & Mind, as well as some helpful guidance to create your OWN healthy balance - you should consider our Self-Guided Coaching Plan on Friendship.

Pets are Good For Your Health

#4 Reason - Pets are good for your health because they help us RELAX

There are a few animals that Humans have lived with as pets for longer than others, like dogs and horses. Dogs and horses have been living alongside Human civilizations for longer than we have written records in order to benefit the survival of each species.

The ancestors of dogs were wolves and foxes (but mostly wolves) that stayed on the outskirts of early Human communities.

These ancestral dogs learned that Humans are sure to leave scraps of food behind that the dogs could forage for nutrition, while the Humans learned that these early dogs could sense a potential threat LONG before the Humans did, then “take the hint” themselves that it was time to prepare for conflict.

Over time, the pack of dogs would literally follow the trail of our ancestral hunter/gatherer societies until they became more and more tame. Eventually, the wolves/foxes trusted the Human communities enough to live so closely that People were able to start strategically breeding certain dogs together to create the “breeds” we now recognize today.

Eventually, both dogs and horses lived and worked alongside Human Beings SO much, that the mirror neurons in our Brains began to communicate with each other.

Studies now show that when a Human, dog, and /or horse are bonded together (meeting each others’ Love & Belonging Needs), our levels of stress and relaxation LITERALLY get tuned into one another.

In other words, when Humans get “stressed”, the Brain releases cortisol into the bloodstream (stress hormone), and makes us “stressed out.” When a dog or horse is bonded to us, their Brain learns to sense this stress response and THEIR Brain responds with the SAME stress response. This results in an increase in blood pressure, reduced immune response, global inflammation, and poor sleep for both mammals.

On the other hand, the OPPOSITE also holds true. These same studies show that when we are petting our dog/horse, or when we are just cuddling with them, another brain chemical called “oxytocin” is released. Oxytocin signals to our Brain that our Loved Ones are close to us, so we “feel more safe.” Our Body responses by helping us RELAX by creating a decrease in blood pressure, increased immune response, decreased general inflammation, and improving the sleep quality of both mammals. WILD, right?

It turns out that all those “positive vibes” we get when around our pet is actually proven on a BIOLOGICAL LEVEL and associated with ALL KINDS of health benefits to both Human Beings and our pets alike.

For this reason, many People experience their pet(s) as part of their “Family”, or maybe just a “close friend.” If you are ready to learn more about how YOU can create these types of meaningful connections with your Loved Ones - whatever species they might be - it might be time to consider our Self-Guided Coaching Plan around Balanced Family Life, and maybe even Friendship.

Pets are Good For Your Health

#5 Reason - Pets are good for your health because they help us get exercise

Human Beings, like our pets, are physically designed to MOVE. Human Beings are designed to move SO much that we even lost all (well, MOST) of the hair on our Body and developed sweat glands to cool off when our Body gets too hot from physical exertion. There is a WHOLE LOT of movement required by our Body over MANY generations in order to create that type of evolutionary pressure!

Fast forward to Modern Society...we are cooped up in man-made buildings almost 24 hours a day with VERY readily available food sources at our fingertips. Unless we learn how to take our Physical Needs for exercise into our own hands, where the heck else is that supposed to come from? For many People, it DOESN’T.

Studies have shown that 80% of Americans do NOT get the proper amount of exercise.

It can be tough to get going with a consistent exercise routine on our own and a little bit of accountability can be “just what the Doctor ordered” when it comes to getting on track with our exercise needs. Who better than your loving dog?

Like Human Beings, dogs and horses have DAILY needs for physical exercise, and who could possibly be a better walking partner?

While I have never lived with a horse, I certainly know what a pain in the butt an under-exercised dog can be, but you know what, that is the type of accountability that dogs provide! Where ELSE is that energy supposed to GO? They can’t numb their Brain by watching Netflix and/or drinking alcohol and to be clear, that does NOT work for People in the long-term either - ESPECIALLY when our physical needs are not met.

When we allow ourselves to see our pets as exercise accountability partners, we get the best of BOTH Worlds. If you are struggling to get your own exercise plan going, OR if you are having a tough time kicking some old and unhealthy habits to the curb, it might be time to check out our Self-Guided Coaching Plans around Physical Health, Self-Identity, and/or Life’s Purpose.

Pets are Good For Your Health

#6 Reason - Pets are good for your health because they teach us P-A-T-I-E-N-C-E

The World is a naturally a chaotic place and this makes the skill of PATIENCE a VERY important one. The more we can learn to accept what we get to control and where, the more we can learn to be “at peace” with parts of Life that are beyond our control. In many ways, this is a large part of the original Buddhist teachings around compassion for Self through loss.

This loss of perceived control is a VERY difficult skill to learn and often comes with an UNPLEASANT set of Life’s Lessons. If you have ever had a pet, you will also know that a pet owner MUST learn to have a degree of patience with their pet. We are asking an animal to live with us in a Human World that they are TOTALLY unprepared for until we provide the proper guidance.

The more patient we learn to be with our pet, the more our pet learns to trust our guidance, and the needed lessons of living in a Human World are learned more smoothly. That same patience can then be used with Self & Loved Ones through more difficult times in order to maintain meaningful connection with them.

In many ways, traditional manhood teaches Boys that while “patience is a virtue”, it is NOT as important as WINNING, being “the best”, and knowing how to “make it happen.” As a result, many Men do not learn the skills of patience with Self & Loved Ones, and benefit greatly from our pets because they are SO direct back with us when we are NOT being patient enough and in turn, need to focus on those skill-sets.

If patience is something that you are ready to work on, it might be time to check out our Self-Identity Self-Guided Coaching Plan, and maybe even the Life’s Purpose Plan. Once we learn more about our OWN Personal Integrity and how to keep this in balance with our unique Self-Identity, it is much easier to “put it all together.”

Pets are Good For Your Health

#7 Reason - Pets are good for your health because they help us stay SAFE

Whether your pet is literally part of your “home security system” (remember this is one of the ORIGINAL purposes for dog ownership for our ancestors), or they just make us FEEL “safe and secure”, there is something to be said for that. As stated earlier, the more we can create a sense of Order and structure to combat the CHAOS of daily life, the more we benefit from the release of those helpful brain chemicals that reduce stress on both Body & Mind.

Would you like to hear a personal story of when one of our Founder’s dogs saved he and his Wife’s Lives? If so, check it out:

“After meeting each other and falling in love while working together in a wilderness therapy setting with at-risk Youth, my Wife (then girlfriend) and I moved to Portland, Oregon for me to go to graduate school for a Master’s Degree in Marriage, Couples, and Family Therapy. We had VERY little money and looked for an apartment that was close enough to school, while also CHEAP. We ended up settling on an apartment complex that was built in the 1970s and probably had not been renovated since then.

Being a dog lover myself, I convinced my Wife that it was time to officially make our house a Home by adopting a rescue dog. I was pretty persistent about this one, so eventually “won the battle” and we adopted “Chief.” Chief was an INTENSE dog - a mixture between Belgian Malinois & American Pitbull Terrier - and he and I were bonded to each other “like white on rice.” He had REALLY intense exercise needs and at that point in my mid-20s, I did as well! We were a great physical match and enjoyed our companionship, but Chief actually saved my Life, as well as my Wife’s, when we lived in that apartment complex.

One night, Chief started making these weird noises from his crate where he liked to sleep at night. I knew what is “alert barking” sounded like, but this was different and it kept going, so I woke up and came out of our bedroom to see what the fuss was about. I discovered that the LIGHT SWITCH WAS SPARKING AND SMOKING. I quickly opened the fuse box to our unit and pulled the switch into the “OFF” position, called the fire department, woke up my Wife, and took Chief outside for a walk. I knew the fire department would be coming and Chief was NOT the kind of dog to take nicely to People storming into our living space with a bunch of bulky and loud gear.

My Wife called me about 15 minutes later after the fire department was done and the situation was “all clear”. When I got back, my Wife informed me that the fire department showed her the old wires behind the wall that caught fire and how CLOSE they were to our refrigerator. If those sparks reached our refrigerator, the likelihood that our whole unit would have EXPLODED was HIGH! If Chief had not woken us up with those persistent and WEIRD noises, then my Wife, Chief and I would have all died that night together in that explosion. I owed that dog my Life.”

My name is Logan Cohen and I am a Professional Therapist & Life Coach with over 10 years in the field of Counseling Psychology. I am a Clinical Supervisor for the American Association of Marriage & Family Therapy, as well as the founder of New Leaf Counseling Group, LLC in Charlotte, NC. After spending tens of thousands of clinical hours with my own clients, starting a successful group practice, as well as a beautiful Family, I “picked my head up from the grindstone” to check in on childhood Friends & Loved Ones.

I painfully discovered that more than a few of my childhood Friends passed away at a young age from preventable health conditions and decided that as a Man, Husband, Father, and Friend, I could no longer stand by as People suffered in silence and self-destructed rather than ask for help. It doesn’t have to be like that and the holistic healing methods offered by the Balanced Man Plan is designed to help People “get unstuck” and break free from old patterns that are the barriers between Self & quality of Life.

The Balanced Man Plan is a therapeutic digital experience delivered through Self-Guided Coaching Plans created by a Male Therapist with the common barriers & strengths of Men in mind. The Balanced Man Plan has the goal of introducing a natural Balance back to Life so it is sustainable for the optimal Health & Well-Being of Self and Loved Ones - and ALL from the privacy and comfort of Home. If you have enjoyed what you see so far, check out our Self Guided Coaching Plans!

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