“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.” ― Josh Billings
If you’ve ever owned a dog, you know how unconditionally they love every member of the family. Dogs get very attached to their owners and will stay loyal until the very end.
Studies have shown that dogs can help people struggling with anxiety, depression, and grief. They can also help children develop social skills, deal with bullies better, and perform better at school. There’s something about the carefree, almost childlike nature of pets that makes us forget about everyday problems and just enjoy their company.
Watching dogs run after a ball or a stick, play with other dogs, or play with a toy is soothing for the human soul.
They’re in the present moment and while watching them have fun, you’re in the present moment too. Some dogs are silly and love to make their owners laugh; other dogs will feel your sadness and sit by your side until you feel better.
Wondering if dog companionship is the right thing for you? Read on to discover 7 amazing benefits of owning a dog that’ll improve your mental health.
1. Dogs Are Great Friends
One of the best benefits of owning a dog is their unconditional, true, loyal friendship.
Your dog will listen to you talk without judging, be by your side when you feel sad, make you laugh when you don’t feel like laughing, and follow you everywhere to make sure you’re ok.
Dogs can never betray you, talk behind your back, gossip or spread hate about you. They’re the best friends you’ll ever have and all they ask in return is a lot of love and treats.
If you’re thinking about getting a dog, you’re not just getting a pet – you’re getting a friend for life. And if you return the love and affection, you’ll realize your dog is a better friend than your human friends.
2. Caring for a Dog Creates a Sense of Responsibility
Caring for a dog, whether it’s a puppy or a fully-grown dog, can instill a sense of responsibility in both kids and adults. They’ll give you purpose in your day, help you learn healthier habits, and help you set up a structured routine.
For example, trained mental health dogs can help people with depression by making them leave the house to take them for a walk.
They also provide warmth and friendship that depressed people lack in their life. Hugging or petting a dog fulfills one of the most basic human needs for touch and closeness.
3. Dogs Keep You in the Present Moment
Have you ever felt worried or deep in thought while playing with your dog? If you answered ‘no’, this is because dogs keep you in the present moment and help you focus on the game or the petting instead of your problems.
Dogs don’t think about their past or future – they’re only enjoying the ‘here and now’ and live life with what they have. They don’t ask for more toys, clothes, trips, or fancy food – all they want is your love, affection, companionship, and treats.
4. Dogs Can Reduce Stress and Anxiety
Dogs can have positive effects on your mental health, especially with conditions like PTSD, anxiety, chronic stress, depression, bipolar disorder, and loneliness.
For example, therapy dogs for anxiety can be trained to anticipate an upcoming anxiety attack and react in a specific way to help the person calm down.
They can also help children deal with bullying, big life changes, and even autism. These dogs are more than pets – they’re service dogs specifically trained to help children with skill development, safety, confidence, and independence, as well as to learn more calmness and comfort techniques.
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5. Dogs Can Boost Your Mood and Make You Happier
One of the best benefits of emotional support animals is their ability to make you happier instantly.
When your pup does something silly, you can’t help but laugh. In many ways, dogs are like children and all they want is to play, eat, sleep, and then play again.
Dogs can also sense when you’re not feeling well emotionally and will always come by your side and sit with you. This is why many people get dogs to help them deal with depression, grief, loneliness, and heartbreak.
6. Dogs Will Keep You Active
Walking your dog a few times a day is a great exercise for both you and the pup. Dogs need physical activity in order to stay fit and healthy but so do people.
If you need a reason to leave the house, consider getting a dog that you’ll have to walk every day. Bigger breeds like huskies, Samoyeds, German shepherds, Labradors, and Golden Retrievers can be great jogging buddies as well.
You can also play fetch, take them to a dog park, or run around your neighborhood to get some exercise.
Working out is the best way to improve your mood because exercise stimulates the production of happy hormones like dopamine and serotonin.
7. Dogs Can Improve Your Social Life
Dogs are great conversation-starters, especially at the dog park where you can meet other dog parents. If you’re looking to make new friends or meet like-minded people, take your dog for a walk, to a dog playground, or a dog show. You can talk about your breed, tell funny stories, get tips and advice, and maybe even arrange a doggy playdate for your pups.
Also, consider going to pet-friendly cafes and places where other people take their dogs too. This is a great way to strike up a conversation and make new friends. There are many groups on social media and in your town for your dog’s breed where you can connect with other people, ask them questions, and just hang out while your pups play in the grass.
Have You Experienced the Amazing Mental Health Benefits of Dog Companionship?
Whether you’re dealing with mental health issues or just need a loyal friend in your life, dog companionship is the best way to boost your mood and feel instantly happier.
Dogs can help you soothe anxiety attacks, lift you out of a depression, and even help you meet new people. Their playfulness can also help you stay in the present moment and forget all about your worries and problems.
While dogs can have great mental health benefits, sometimes you could also benefit from the support of a licensed mental health professional.
Want more lifestyle tips? Check out some of the other articles we’ve written on the topic and find the perfect pet for your needs and family.