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Many people credit their dog as being their best friend. Dogs are devoted and loyal, always following a step behind their owners. Or, more likely, a step ahead to trip us because they prefer being as close as possible to their family members.
As best pals, dogs are often taken along on vacations and other adventures. Hiking with your dog is a great way to bond, but it’s important to keep smaller dogs safe. This review of carriers can help you choose the best option for your furry friend.
The Rise of the Therapy Dog
There was a time in history when dogs were feral and lived in packs. Once humans discovered how helpful dogs are, they became hunting companions. Hundreds of years later, dogs are so domesticated now that they live indoors and are considered a member of the family.
It’s been known for a long time that dogs can be trained as working dogs for the police and military. They can even be trained to assist people with disabilities in specific tasks. In the last few years, dogs have bounded their way into a new field: mental health.
Dogs are now considered mood boosters and utilized in places such as classes and courtrooms. Since dogs have a calm demeanor, they are highly skilled at reducing anxiety and depression in humans.
6 Mental Health Benefits to Owning Dogs
Dogs are constant companions with an added bonus of relieving feelings of depression and stress. Of course, dogs aren’t a cure-all or replacement for licensed therapy but can work as a supplement to other depression treatments.
Here are 6 ways dogs can help ease depression symptoms.
1. Dogs Get You Out of the House
When someone is depressed, they typically want to stay indoors and sleep the day away. Dogs need regular exercise and potty breaks, which can get their humans outside the house, even briefly. Fresh air and sunshine can help combat the symptoms of depression.
Dogs are also known to increase social interactions because the topic of dogs is the perfect icebreaker. And who can resist an opportunity to pet a dog, which may spark a conversation between strangers.
2. They Teach Us Responsibility
Dogs are a lot of work. In addition to needing exercise, they require regular feeding, grooming, petting and attention. All of those things can help give a person a feeling of purpose. That feeling is especially helpful for someone who is suffering from the low self-esteem that comes with depression.
Another side effect of depression is feeling worthless and like you don’t matter to anyone. While human family members may be reluctant to share how they feel about you, dogs don’t have that reservation. A wagging tail is a dead giveaway that your pup adores you.
3. Their Very Presence Reduces Stress
Studies show that even locking eyes on a dog can be an immediate mood boost. Dogs have a very soothing presence because they are intent on the present, without worrying about the past or what’s ahead.
Stress and anxiety go hand-in-hand with depression. Stress is also one of the leading causes of death in the world. Owning dogs can lower blood pressure, which in turn reduces stress levels, ensuring long and happy life with your pup.
4. Dogs Love Us Unconditionally
Along with low self-esteem comes the feeling of loneliness or being unloved. People who suffer depression often fall into slumps where they are convinced the world would be better off without them. It wouldn’t be, but it’s not an easy thought pattern to get out of once you’re in it.
Despite any flaws we may have, our dogs love us unconditionally. They also depend on us for affection. Dogs can ease the feeling of loneliness. As any dog owner can tell you, you’re never alone if you have dogs.
5. Dogs Change the Way We Behave
Dogs have a sweet nature that turns even the deepest frown upside down after a hard day at work. If you’re in a bad mood for whatever reason, the mere sight of your dog will lift your mood.
The canines have an uncanny ability to sense what their human is feeling and act accordingly. If you’re feeling blue, your pup will likely cuddle as close to you as possible to ease the depression.
6. Petting a Dog Can Relieve Depression
For humans, the sensation of touch can reduce stress and anxiety. Petting your dog sends signals to your brain that promote happiness and joy.
And of course, your dog will encourage you to continue petting long after your mood is lifted.
Dogs Live in the Moment
One thing humans could learn from dogs is to live in the moment, not the past or the future. It’s something dog trainers constantly remind dog owners: your dog has no idea why you’re mad that they chewed your shoe three hours ago. They have moved beyond that moment and are living in the now.
Life, in general, would be less stressful if we didn’t have to mull over our regrets or worry about what tomorrow holds.
Leo Wilson graduated from a university major in animal health and behavior. He had over a decade of experience working in the pet industry and has contributed many dogs and pet-related articles to several websites before he decided to start sharing his knowledge on his own blog – Cyberpet.com. And when he is not busy working, he and his wonderful wife love spending time at home with their 3 dogs and 2 cats.
Disclaimer: The statements, opinions, and data contained in these publications are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of Credihealth and the editor(s).
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