“A lifeline”: how UK dogs helped their owners through lockdown

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Image by The Kennel Club and Rachel Oates

Three in five long-term dog owners said that their dog was “a lifeline” in lockdown, according to data released ahead of World Mental Health Day (10 October).

Carried out in July 2020, the research shows “many long-term owners were comforted and calmed by their dog during the time of crisis, with 91 per cent saying their dog had a positive impact on their mental health”.

Two in five (40 per cent) agreed it was because they kept them active and more than one in three (32 per cent) said it was because having a dog provided a routine. 61 per cent said their dog was a ‘lifeline in lockdown’ and 29 per cent agreed spending “more time with their dog was the best thing about lockdown”.

Almost half (47 per cent) agreed that their dog helped them feel less lonely, and kept them feeling calm, and more than a third (36 per cent) said having a dog made them less anxious. Almost one in three (30 per cent) feel their dog was there for them when no one else was.

“These statistics show what anyone who owns or love dogs already know,” commented Bill Lambert, spokesperson for the Kennel Club. “For centuries, through thick and thin, dogs have provided us with unconditional love, loyalty and companionship without any judgment, and clearly that has a positive impact on our mental health.

“Similarly, being a dog owner supports self-care – taking a dog out for a walk encourages social interaction and provides motivation to get outdoors and be active, and this may be the only social contact, exercise or activity an isolated, lonely or anxious person has the whole day.

“Being needed by our four-legged friend can be a lifeline when getting through each day is hard and sometimes human support doesn’t hit the mark. As we continue to face a global pandemic and the psychological stresses that brings with it, this unique support that dogs provide to their owners is now more important than ever.

“In a world full of chaos, man’s best friend is certainly living up to its name.”  

Tracey Ison, 50 from Leicestershire, credits her dog Scout for “helping her through a breakdown, to overcome anxiety and get her through lockdown”.

Tracey said, “I had been in a very dark place, but forced myself every day to take Scout out for walks. These walks would sometimes last for hours, Scout walked at my side, occasionally nudging me with his nose, his way of checking in with me. Each day that passed, my mind began to clear. Scout gave me my life back. He is my absolute world.

“Scout has been a great support to me during lockdown too. He gives me a reason to get up every morning and stick to a routine whilst I am furloughed from work. We have found lots of different places to walk and I think both of us have really appreciated the sounds of nature – Scout loves bird song. He really is the best lockdown buddy I could have asked for.”

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