Having a dog makes you twice as approachable, new research reveals.
A study of 2,000 people looked at the social impacts of owning a dog and found they are 55 per cent more likely to start a conversation with someone if they have one.
When we see someone with a friendly animal, we feel safe with them and feel that they will be happy for us to stop and talkProfessor
While the average dog owner has six chats a week - 312 a year, with people in the community, as a result of their canine companion.
Results showed dogs make you more approachable than children it seems - with people 30 per cent more likely to start a conversation with someone with a dog than someone with children.
The research was commissioned by The Big Lunch, a one-day get-together on Sunday June 12 for neighbours, and looked at the effect having a dog has on making new friends in the community.
Results showed the typical dog owner has at least three friends that originated directly from them having their pet.
The results make a valuable argument for the impact owning a dog can have on a person’s social interactions - 75 per cent say having a dog reduces feelings of loneliness and more than half (52 per cent) say that having a dog improves relationships in the community.
The results emerge in conjunction with photos taken as London Big Lunchers gathered at Tanner Street Park, Bermondsey, with their dogs for a little dog training session to prepare for the big day.
The study also reveals that people think that getting a dog is one of the best ways to make friends with neighbours. Other top recommendations include volunteering in your community, joining a club or group, such as an organising committee on your street to make plans for a Big Lunch.
Oxford University Professor of Psychology, Robin Dunbar, who worked with The Big Lunch as part of the campaign, said yesterday: “Research has shown that owning a dog is a good way of combatting loneliness, both because of the company that such a pet can provide, but also because of the way that other people react to dogs and their owners.
“The majority of people (52 per cent) said that having a dog improves relationships in your community, and 71 per cent said that people out on the street are more likely to stop and talk to you if you are walking a dog. This is because when we see someone with a friendly animal, we feel safe with them and feel that they will be happy for us to stop and talk.”
And sometimes the dogs are even more memorable than the owners - four in ten Brits know the names of certain dogs but do not know their owners by name, results showed.
Peter Stewart of The Big Lunch added: “While two thirds of us have never shared a meal with our neighbours, we are more likely to strike up conversation with those with dogs. Hosting or joining a Big Lunch on June 12th is a great way to make new friends, share stories, to have fun, whether you have a canine friend or not - it offers a simple way to make lasting relationships and most Big Lunches are also dog-friendly.”
More than 87 per cent of all Big Lunch attendees met new people at last year’s event and 58 per cent met several new people or families.
What’s more 82 per cent have kept in touch with new people they met since their last Big Lunch and 65 per cent have taken part in other community activities with the people that they met, since The Big Lunch .
Research reveals the top recommendations to making friends with your neighbours:
1. Volunteering in the community
2. Joining a club or group
3. Getting a dog
4. Joining or hosting a Big Lunch
5. Inviting neighbours to lunch