Dog Owners Say Their Canine Pals Make Them a Better Person

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Between the early morning walks, the chewed-up furniture, and the trips to the vet, dog parenting is hard work. But at the end of the day, the payoff is worth it: Canine owners report that their pets make them a better person in more ways than one, a new survey finds.

BarkBox, the monthly subscription box for dogs, recently conducted its first-ever BarkBox Dog Parent Study. They hired a research firm to ask more than 1000 adult, dog-owning Americans how their relationship with their furry friends affects their lives.

In total, 93 percent of respondents said their relationship with Fido inspires them to become a better person in at least one way. Seventy-one percent of people said their dogs make them happier, and nearly 80 percent said getting up in the morning is easier knowing that their canine companions are there to greet them. More than half of participants said their pups make them more patient and responsible (and just under half said their pets make them more affectionate).

According to BarkBox's survey, your furry friend can also help with your physical fitness: 83 percent of dog owners said that their four-legged companions make them more physically active, with 72 percent reporting that their pet influenced their workout choices.

Most of these findings aren’t likely to shock dog owners—or scientists, for that matter. Studies have found that interacting with dogs can improve mood and reduce anxiety; that children who grow up with animal companions might be more empathetic than their pet-less peers; and that dog owners get more exercise than people without dogs.

That being said, BarkBox’s survey revealed a few surprising details about pet ownership that canine parents probably won't confess to their dog-less friends. For one, nearly half of dog owners said their dog “always or frequently” sleeps in their bed—and 36 percent said they were willing to sleep in an uncomfortable position to keep their dog next to them. And privacy seems to be of little concern to pet parents: A third reported having  “gotten intimate” with someone while their pooch was present, and 43 percent said they typically let their dog wander into the bathroom while they are using it.

Most importantly, 85 percent of subjects said their dogs have helped them weather a tough time in their lives, and 97 percent said they'd do something to make their pups happy, too. And on average, they tell their pets "I love you" six times a day. (Awww.)