For larger private gatherings, weddings and other celebrations, various restrictive measures are recommended (which often leads organizers to cancel or postpone a social event). You also do the work entirely (or partially) from home, so that channel for making new acquaintances is currently limited. For many people eager to meet and socialize, such circumstances can be a serious obstacle.
On the other hand, this may also be the right time to think about a new way of connecting with people in the neighborhood or the immediate area. It’s about how you can reap multiple benefits for your own benefit. More research shows that the presence of animals can encourage interaction with others. If you know someone who walks the dog regularly, they will probably confirm to you that people are more likely to approach you on the road while walking the dog.
In a study conducted in Australia, scientists learned that the third most common way to meet people in the neighborhood was by owning a pet. Dog owners are 60% more likely than those who do not own a dog to meet people from the neighborhood they did not know before. Dr. Lisa Wood of the University of Australia states that owning a pet can be a significant factor in facilitating social interaction and forming friendships in the neighborhood. These relationships can sometimes grow into sources of social support of a practical and emotional nature. Dogs can be good ‘ice breakers’, making it easier to start a conversation. The presence of a dog helps to break the social norm of not approaching and talking to strangers.
In another similar study, researchers studied whether the presence of a dog would help encourage interaction with others in people with intellectual disabilities. Research participants were divided into two groups. The first group of participants would walk around the neighborhood in the company of another person, while in the second group of participants in the walk, both the dog and the other person kept company. They then measured the number and type of interactions among people in both groups. The group of participants who went for a walk with the dog had a significantly higher number of encounters with other people on the street than the group without the dog. In the same study, they found that when participants visited certain places or parks for extended periods of time, the rate of those recognized by other walkers was higher in the group walking the dog. This recognition is important in nurturing and maintaining existing social interactions.
The presence of a dog ‘broke the ice’ and increased the likelihood of interacting with others and increased the likelihood that the interaction would take place. The presence of a dog also provided a point of common interest to facilitate further communication – it provided people with a topic of conversation. Finally, study participants relied on the dog’s presence to continue socializing probably because they relied on a series of successful encounters to date aided by the dog’s presence. Researchers have concluded that programs that include dog walking can be valuable in helping people with intellectual disabilities make new social connections.
It seems quite probable, based on the mentioned and several other researches, that the obtained results could be generalized that it seems easier for people to make new neighbor acquaintances in the presence of a dog.
If this article may have prompted you to think about purchasing or adopting a dog, it is important to consider the appropriate conditions and take into account the responsibility of caring for a hairy companion over a period of life. If this idea still seems feasible to you, it is important to say that the benefits of living with a pet / dog include a variety of physical, psychological and social benefits.