1. They Help You Chill
"Petting and playing with dogs lowers blood
pressure and heart rate almost immediately," says Hal Herzog, an
anthrozoologist and psychology professor at Western Carolina University. These
benefits may add up to long-term protection: Some studies show that dog owners
have lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and obesity risk than people without
them. Even a brief interaction with a dog can ease anxiety and boost mood,
finds a new Yale study. "A dog may change your perception of a stressor,"
says lead researcher Molly Crossman. "You come home after a bad day, your
dog runs up so happy to see you, and suddenly you think, 'You know what? I can
do this.' "