Isn’t it a joy in itself to have a dog in your life? We could define a dog as that faithful and inseparable companion that accompanies us on all our adventures and keeps us company in moments of loneliness and sadness. Do you know the benefits for your mental health of having a dog? But in reality, our dog is much more than an animal that accompanies us on this journey called life. They are real friends. Your dog really loves you. Isn’t it a wonderful feeling? Dogs will earn your affection every day, and without realising it, they are giving you mental well-being.
Did you know that the company of our dog has benefits for your mental health? Indeed, taking care of our dog also helps us in several ways. Its company literally changes our lives, enriches us as individuals, and brings endless benefits to our mental health.
9 Benefits For Your Mental Health of Having A Dog
Dog Can Relieve Stress and Depression
According to studies from two Washington State Universities and another at the University of Ottawa, stroking a dog for approximately 10 minutes is enough time for our “stress hormone,” or cortisol, to be reduced. In addition, these studies show that, in these times of coronavirus and pandemic, this simple practice of stroking our dog and feeling in his company has helped reduce stress and anxiety of the owners by 22%.
When we pet our dog, the relief we feel counteracts and neutralises any type of negative thought. In fact, what we are capable of feeling is that everything is fine, that we are protected, and that we are not alone. Awesome right?
Dog Can Elevate Your Mood and Happiness
When our dog comes to greet us, to play, or simply to approach us, we are invaded by an enormous state of happiness and satisfaction. Have you ever wondered why? The answer is very simple: for our dogs, we are the most important thing in their world. The joy they transmit is contagious, and therefore, as a response, we also feel happy and loved. Also, its enthusiasm for us is pure and true, and that feeling makes us calm.
Dogs are able to change our mood in a positive way in just one second. That is, a dog is not only capable of reducing the stress of a long day, but, on the contrary, a dog is capable of increasing our serotonin and dopamine. In this way, our dog contributes to our mental health.
You Won’t Feel Alone With A Dog
For the vast majority of people, loneliness is a real enemy. We all like to be accompanied and feel loved. If there’s one thing dogs are really good at, it’s cheering us up. Although dogs are not people, it does not mean that we cannot talk to them. They know, thanks to the tone of our voice and the energy we give off, how we feel at all times.
Also, speaking out loud and listening to ourselves and our thoughts is great therapy for our mental health. Who has not ever told their dog their deepest secrets? They don’t judge us, and it even seems as if they could understand us. This only contributes to making us feel understood and, in turn, allowing us to get things off our chests. Next to our dog, we will never feel alone.
Increases Your Senses of Responsibility and Commitment
Great power involves great responsibility. The truth is that properly caring for and attending to the needs of a canine friend is undoubtedly a great responsibility. This sense of responsibility helps owners enormously. According to psychology, one of the basic needs of human beings is to feel important and useful in life.
When we spend our time caring for those around us, we feel fully satisfied. Therefore, the need to be useful and important is covered. In addition, dogs are very grateful creatures and they give us back with their love and company everything we do for them. In this way, we establish a healthy relationship with our pet. Dogs commit to us by giving us their loyalty and love.
And we are committed to them by taking care of them and serving them in the best possible way. All of this contributes to our personal growth and mental health.
How could your dog help us have better self-esteem? Isn’t self-esteem an internal job?
The truth is that dogs have a lot to teach humans. Dogs have many values that they show us every day. It is true that we have to work on our self-esteem by ourselves, but taking care of a dog helps us in the process.
By socialising with them and constantly seeing positive responses from the dogs, we feel motivated, secure, and little by little, more confident. It even improves our social skills if we are introverts. A person who increases his self-esteem will be a much happier person with positive mental health.
A Dog Contributes To Your Social Development
Dogs undoubtedly teach us the values of friendship, loyalty, and love every day of their lives. Spending time with dogs helps improve our relationships with other people. They give us experience and greater confidence in our dealings with the people around us. Many people even reduce their feelings of shame when dealing with new people.
Physical Exercise With Your Dog
Last but not least, having a dog “forces” us to have not only to take the corresponding walks but also to carry out physical activities with them.
Most dogs love to play and run outside. If we take the opportunity to train and exercise with them we will feel much happier. This is because when we do some kind of sport, our brain releases serotonin. That’s why after finishing training we feel so happy with ourselves. Also, did you know that when you exercise, the muscle that you stimulate the most is your brain? That’s right, therefore, physical exercise is crucial for good mental health.
Owning a dog can significantly contribute to increased mindfulness, the practice of staying present and fully engaging with the here and now. Whether it’s watching your dog explore every nook and cranny of your yard, or taking in the peaceful moments when they’re napping by your side, their actions can serve as a real-time reminder to slow down and appreciate the simple joys of life.
Dogs live in the moment, unfettered by concerns about the past or the future. This behavior can be infectious, prompting us to put aside our phones, step away from the relentless pace of life, and just be. In a world full of distractions and stressors, the simple act of spending quality time with your dog can turn into a form of mindfulness practice, benefitting both your mental well-being and your overall quality of life.
Sense of Security and Safety
Having a dog by your side can be incredibly reassuring and create a heightened sense of security and safety. Dogs are naturally protective and are often vigilant, alerting their owners to any unusual activity or possible threat. Whether it’s a strange noise in the middle of the night or someone approaching your front door, a dog’s acute senses and instinctual protective behavior can make you feel safer in your own home.
Moreover, the very presence of a dog can act as a deterrent against potential burglars or threats. This leads to a significant psychological benefit, especially for those living alone or in less secure environments. Knowing that you have a loyal companion watching over you can relieve anxiety and contribute to a better sense of emotional well-being. The comfort derived from this protective relationship can be profound, offering both peace of mind and a sense of safety that contributes to improved mental health.
In conclusion, the mental health benefits of having a dog are both abundant and scientifically supported. From increasing mindfulness and offering a sense of security to reducing stress and enhancing your social life, dogs truly are more than just pets; they’re furry therapists. Their unconditional love and consistent presence create a wellspring of psychological and emotional support that can significantly improve the quality of your life. So, the next time you look into the eyes of your canine companion, remember you’re not just seeing a pet, but a catalyst for better mental health.
And here, 10 Good Reasons To Adopt A Dog.