Having a dog is really good for your social life.
Almost half of dog owners have made friends while on their walks with their pups, suggests a new study.
Research involving 2,000 dog owners found they have met an average of four new people through their pet while out for walks or at puppy training classes.
This has led to the dogs themselves having a vast social life too, with 60% of owners believing their pet has ‘dog friends’.
The average dog is considered to have three friends, with more than one quarter even having a ‘walking buddy’, often going out with the same canine and owner.
And eight in 10 believe it is ‘important’ for dogs to have friends that they regularly see.
As well as canines, three in 10 dogs also have other animal companions, the majority of which are cats.
But some respondents said their pet is friends with a horse and rabbit.
The study was commissioned by children’s TV Channel, Boomerang, to launch its new show Mighty Mike on 1 May.
Nick Jones, MA Dog Behaviourist said: ‘Dogs that mix nicely together can form strong bonds and learn a variety of social skills from each other that humans may find hard to spot or recognise.
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‘Similarly, dogs are the perfect ice breaker to start conversations with people you might otherwise pass by and are proven to bring numerous health benefits along the way, such as improvements in mental and physical health, which this research has also shown.’
The study also found 54% of dog owners believe having their pet has boosted their confidence as they can easily talk to strangers.
Other areas of their lives which have been improved include stress levels, health and time spent outdoors.
A further four in 10 even said their overall happiness has been enhanced and one third admitted to arranging ‘play dates’ for themselves and their pooch.
Love lives have even been positively affected, as one six knows someone who has met their other half through having a dog.
Further to this, one quarter of pups are ‘friends’ with a fellow dog in their house.
When dogs recognise four legged friends they regularly see, 60% act excited and over one quarter become energised, showing how much they enjoy the company.
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Common places for dogs to meet others were found to be in the local area, with 63% often bumping into the same animals when they are out and about.
And one in 10 have interacted with fellow pooches while on holiday at the beach and in walking groups.
On average, owners spend more than seven-and-a-half hours a week outside walking their pup, while one in 10 even spend up to 10 hours.
But more than one third admitted they prefer going on a walk with another companion and, on average, spend one hour a week on arranged outings with fellow dog walkers.
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Emphasising the social impact having a dog has, three quarters of those polled via OnePoll believe in the lovable phrase ‘dogs are a man’s best friend’.