Known as man's best friend, dogs are arguably the best-loved pets in the U.S. Although dog ownership is not for everyone, several factors account for the overwhelming popularity of Canis familiaris, also known as the domesticated dog.
Popularity of the Dog
According to recent surveys, more than 45 percent of American households own at least one dog, making it by far the most popular pet in the United States. In comparison, cats are pets in 38 percent of households, while fish come in a distant third at 14 percent of households.
Man's Best Friend
Dogs are pack animals and view their human owners as their leaders or masters. They are therefore loyal, obedient and enthusiastic pets. More than any other common house pet, dogs openly display their affection for their owners, demonstrating sincere excitement when they return home and often seek attention in the form of playing or petting. Many owners find it gratifying to have a pet who is obviously fond of them.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the benefits of pet ownership include opportunities for exercise and outdoor activities, as well as for socialization, thanks primarily to the fact that dogs must be walked every day. That activity burns calories, forces owners to get out of the house and often leads to friendly encounters with neighbors.
Dogs and Kids
If you get the right breed, she will interact wonderfully with children. Some dogs have rough-and-tumble personalities and are great companions for active children, while others are gentle and patient and will calmly tolerate the "abuse" often perpetrated by over-enthusiastic kids. Either way, a dog offers more companionship and interaction than a cat, bird or guinea pig.
Because of dogs' intelligence and willingness to be trained, they make good guardians, whether keeping intruders or wild animals away from the house. Some breeds are also talented at herding livestock, assisting in rescue missions, sniffing out illegal drugs and guiding the blind.