Owning a dog can seem like a pain at times. They require a lot of care, they aren’t cheap and they need cleaning up after. However, a new study has found that they give something back in an unusual way, as having a dog is excellent for your social life.

The study looked at 1,500 dog owners and found that, for the vast majority of those studied, owning a dog had improved their social life. In fact, 60 per cent of the participants had been introduced to up to five new friends as a result of having a dog. For five per cent of participants, owning a dog has caused them to gain ten new friends.

So how does owning a dog improve our social lives so well? Largely, it is because of shared dog walking routes. The study found that around 60 per cent of people see the same people each day while walking the dog, and on average they had been seeing them for four years.

Two thirds of participants said that they had met more people due to owning a dog, and on average most of them had done so either on walks or at puppy training. On average, a dog walker will talk to four people on their daily walk, for eight minutes each. Two of these people will end up being classed as ‘good friends’.

Furthermore, many people who own dogs would prefer to associate with others with a similar taste in pets. Around 25 per cent of participants said that they would only really mix with ‘doggy people’, and 42 per cent would view those who did not own a dog as ‘suspicious’.

Psychologist Dr David Lewis said: “My studies suggest that dogs provide a perfect excuse for conversing with strangers and that owning a dog can prove especially beneficial for anyone whose social anxiety usually makes it hard to strike up a conversation with new people.

“Many friendships, and even a few lifetime romances only started because two owners stopped to chat about their pooches.”

Written by: Hannah