Creature comforts: Over two-thirds of dog owners seek solace from their pets over anything else

Research from The Kennel Club released ahead of Mental Health Awareness Week shows that stroking a dog is the top choice for stress relief

  • Two thirds of dog owners choose to cuddle or stroke a dog as their first port of call for comfort
  • Half also believe walking their dog improves their mood and well-being
  • A new ‘cyber Crufts’ is launched, starting with ‘Best Pet Companion’ category, which celebrates the role the nation’s pets play in enhancing our lives

Research from The Kennel Club, released ahead of Mental Health Awareness Week (15-21 May), reveals that dog owners are turning to their four-legged-friends first and foremost, to help with feelings of stress and sadness.

Following a turbulent few years through both the pandemic, followed by the cost-of-living crisis, the research shows that dogs have provided a vital source of comfort to their owners, with more than two thirds (69 per cent) claiming that stroking or cuddling a dog would be their first port of call when feeling stressed or down. Not only that, three in five (59 per cent) suggest that they find more comfort in their dog than in humans, while 67 per cent say their dog is their ‘best friend’.

This year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is exploring the theme of anxiety, one of the most common mental health problems today, affecting people of all ages, and this new research also highlights the different ways in which owners, from all walks of life, believe their dogs help with their mental health. Nearly half (48 per cent) of owners aged over 55 agree that their dog makes them less stressed, while more than a third (37 per cent) of owners aged between 16-24 admit that their dog makes them feel less anxious.

Regular exercise is also beneficial for mental well-being, and more than two in five (45 per cent) of owners believe that walking their dog improves their mood, while 63 per cent claim their dog has helped them to become fitter and healthier.

“This research really shows how the relationships that we have with our pets are amongst the most important, when it comes to our mental health,” said Bill Lambert, spokesperson for The Kennel Club, which organizes Crufts. “We know that not only do dogs offer us comfort and unconditional love through tough times, but they also help us to deal with stress and anxiety and provide us with a regular routine and more opportunities to enjoy physical exercise.

“With that in mind, it’s no surprise that we prefer to turn to our pets first and foremost when we are feeling down; they have an immeasurable positive impact and have proven themselves to be a steady and reliable source of comfort, particularly over the last few years.”

To celebrate what our nation’s pets do for us and the important role that they play in our lives a new cyber-Crufts is being launched on 15 May and will be open to all pets, starting with ‘Best Pet Companion’. The Asda Crufts Online Pet Show – with prizes ranging from a framed photograph of a pet to a pet friendly holiday – will be hosted on the Crufts Facebook and Instagram pages over the next six weeks, leading to a Best in Show finale on 23 June, where the winner will get the ultimate Crufts 2024 VIP experience.

Raj Varma, Senior Buying Manager at Asda, Pet and Paper said, “Our pets do so much for us, and this new research highlights just how positively they can impact on our lives every day. As the cost of living continues to affect many people, we are focused on delivering great value and great quality pet products to our customers, and we’re thrilled to be partnering with Crufts to also share expert advice via the new Pet Pawtal. We hope that the educational and fun content – sharing everything from pet health advice to photo-sharing competitions and money-saving tips – will help serve our customers so they can continue to love and celebrate their pets.”

More information about how dogs can support good mental health can be found by visiting The Kennel Club website. More information about the online Asda Crufts Online Pet Show can be found on the Crufts website.