But first make sure you live in a neighborhood designed to make that possible. A Canadian study examined how dog ownership and neighborhood characteristics might influence recreational walking and a sense of community in middle-aged and older adults. Not surprisingly, they found that individuals who walked their dogs four or more times per week were significantly more likely to spend a longer period of time walking in their neighborhoods and to report a sense of community. Here’s the original story.
A study published in the British Journal of Psychology found that being accompanied by a dog increased the frequency of social interactions especially among strangers. Other studies have concluded that they can prevent us from becoming ill, serve as early warning systems for certain kinds of diseases and illnesses, facilitate our recovery from illness and serve as therapists in institutional settings.
Nursing homes were one of the first settings for taking advantage of the beneficial relationships between dogs and humans but they can be found in assisted living facilities as well and many seniors will no longer consider a move unless they can take a beloved pet with them.