Throughout much of our human history, we have known that the connection between humans and animals is one of great significance, but you might not realize how that can affect us in the modern age. In this article, I will be sharing all of the benefits of having a dog, and how it can even improve your health!
As humans, we can suffer from many mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, loneliness, and other ailments. Having a dog can unquestionably help with these issues.
How Can Dogs Make You Happy and Improve Your Life?
There is no surprise that having a dog makes you happy, and gives you a friend. There’s a reason dogs are called man’s best friend, it’s because they offer endless companionship and can help to curb loneliness.
Dogs also require a lot of exercise and attention, which can benefit your health. For instance, if you are feeling depressed, a dog keeps you functioning. Also, it may keep you from just sitting on the couch for days on end, binge-watching shows. Dogs can also help provide a sense of purpose during times in which some may feel directionless, and petting them can even reduce anxiety. A dog needs you to care off, and provide lots of love and attention, but you may not realize just how much you need them as well.
Dogs & Mental Healthy: The Research Doesn’t Lie
You may be thinking, yes, I love my dog, but do they really benefit my health, or is it just a sort of placebo effect? Well, increasing amounts of research are emerging on the topic of animal interactions and human mental health, and they all agree that these companionship bonds have benefits for both parties.
KORU BEAR is a PetPartners Therapy Dog.
On the weekends, he visits seniors in assisted living and memory care.
According to the Human-Animal Bond Research Institute, studies they have conducted have shown therapy dogs can reduce stress and anxiety, service dogs can help relieve some symptoms of PTSD, and even help their owners manage their emotions. Further research from Psychology Today shows that having a dog can even improve cardiovascular health, lower blood pressure, and lower one’s cholesterol due to increased exercise.
The Mental Wellness Benefits of Dogs
Dogs can benefit our mental wellness in many different ways, mainly by helping to deal with mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD. It may seem outlandish to believe something as simple as your relationship with your dog could end up helping to relieve you of some of these mental health issues, but it is actually true.
Dogs offer a wide range of benefits to our daily lives that we sometimes may not recognize, such as added stability, increased exercise, and their unconditional love. Dogs can even help to assist those with diabetes, Autism, emotional trauma, or various disabilities. Dogs can be trained to assist with a variety of health issues, but even us everyday owners can see the positive effects of having a furry companion by our side.
How Do Dogs Reduce Stress, Anxiety, and Depression
Petting Calms Your Nerves
Petting your dog may feel like second nature to you now, but you may not even realize the benefits these actions give you. Petting your dog strengthens the bond and trust between you, too, and allows you to show them affection. The benefit for you is actually to help reduce anxiety!
The repetitive, soothing motions of petting your furry friend can reduce your anxiety and lower stress levels. This may seem to be too simple of a task for some to realize the benefits, but it is very much like the repetitive motions, fidgets, or anxious leg shaking that most of us are all too familiar with. Instead of these behaviors, which may cause us even more anxiety or tip-off guests around us that we are stressed, petting your dog can redirect this behavior into something productive and beneficial for both parties.
The act of petting your dog can also provide sensory relief to those dealing with stress, which in turn can lower blood pressure. The sensory aspect can also benefit children and adults dealing with autism spectrum disorders, who may have trouble with sensory overload.
A Dog Can Help with Loneliness
While a dog can help with your stress and anxiety, can they really help with the loneliness we all experience from time to time? The answer is absolutely! Many studies have been done by the Human-Animal Bond Research Institute, to study the relationship and positive outcomes from animal-human interactions.
In the case of older individuals, who may be unable to take care of themselves, or who live on their own, having a dog can give them a sense of purpose and unconditional love that they may feel they lack due to living alone. It has also been shown that dogs visiting hospitals and hospices increase the moods of those they interact with and give everyone involved a sense of enjoyment.
Dogs can also assist those with autism or other neurological disorders which may affect their social skills by helping to build their confidence. If someone is feeling isolated due to a disorder such as this, then the companionship offered by their dog allows them to be themselves, unapologetically, while they are around. In many cases, having a dog lets you meet many people as well.
You can take your dog to a dog park, or on hiking trails, any outdoor activity, and you are likely to encounter someone who stops to speak to you and your pup. This can help to overcome social anxieties by giving you a topic of conversation and a natural opportunity to meet people.
Having A Dog Helps You Exercise
If you own a dog, especially a sporty breed such as a Golden Retriever or Labrador, then you likely know the amount of exercise and outdoor time they need to let out all of that energy. This translates into more exercise for you too. It may be hard for us to force ourselves to go out and use a gym membership, but we don’t think twice when we have to go outside and play with our dogs.
This is great for those with depression, cardiovascular issues, high cholesterol, and those of us who just want a healthier lifestyle. By exercising with your dog, you create a routine for the both of you that you become accustomed to, and this routine can give your life much-needed structure and a sense of purpose. These benefits are especially helpful for those dealing with depression, as they can help to build a routine that shakes you out of those days when you can’t get out of bed or even feed yourself.
The exercise can also release endorphins that help to reduce stress, anxiety and promote senses of relaxation. Your dog may just want to go out to play fetch in the backyard, but for you, it can truly help to turn around some of those bad mental health days by focusing on having a great time with your best furry friend.
Petting a dog every day can make you happier and more relaxed
All in all, whether you are petting your dog every day to relieve your stress, taking them on walks to get yourself out there in a new social scene, or just exercising with them in the backyard, there are countless advantages for your mental health that are brought out by your relationship with your dog.
Your dog is the most loyal and unconditionally lovable friend you have. Having a dog can assist you in ways you might never have known, such as loving and guiding you through your worst mental health days with no judgment.