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Are companion dogs a good idea for seniors?

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Quick Answer

Appropriate companion dogs can be a beneficial addition to a senior citizen's life. Companion dogs help alleviate common problems that affect elderly people, including loneliness and lack of connection to the world around them.

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Are companion dogs a good idea for seniors?
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Full Answer

Research has shown that loneliness is the biggest problem that affects many seniors who live alone, especially if they have recently experienced the loss of a spouse. Adopting a companion dog provides them with a loving sidekick. Dogs can also help create a connection with other humans, as owners often develop casual friendships with their neighbors while walking or visiting dog parks.

A companion dog can also help the average senior get more exercise. Dogs need walks, play and training, and meeting those needs causes elderly people to move more than they might otherwise. Companion dogs can also be trained to assist with household tasks that seniors might struggle with, such as retrieving the newspaper on an icy winter morning.

Choosing the right dog for a companion animal is especially important for elderly people. Most do best with smaller, low-energy breeds that do not require heavy exercise. Older dogs are often a better choice because they usually have fewer training requirements. Many shelters and nonprofits offer "Seniors for Seniors" programs to reduce or eliminate the adoption fee and provide additional after-adoption support for elderly people adopting senior dogs.

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