A dog can help you feel happier and healthier in lots of amazing ways. Yes, for many reasons you should view dogs as 4 legged therapists. Here’s why…
Have you ever been to speak to a professional about your mental health? If you’ve been suffering from depression or anxiety, then it’s good to talk to someone that’s an expert in this field.
If you have, then you may be surprised by one of their suggestions. A lot of psychiatrists will recommend that you get a dog to help with your anxiety and mental health issues.
Hang on, how does that work?
How will a dog help you get over a problem in your head?
You can be forgiven for never seeing your psychiatrist again as it sounds like a cop-out piece of advice to move you along.
However, this is genuinely an amazing piece of advice. Dogs are such wonderful creatures that we don’t truly appreciate. People with dogs take them for granted. People without dogs don’t realize how much their lives can be improved with one.
Coming up I will explain all the fantastic ways a dog can help you feel happier and healthier:
A dog will never leave your side. If you have no plans or you’re feeling down, it’s never going to go out with its friends for a drink. It will never cancel plans. Nor will it ever go out and play with another human and leave you feeling isolated.
In many ways, your relationship with your dog is better than any other relationship you’ve had.
When you need some comfort or companionship, they will always come padding along when you call. As such, you can never feel lonely when you have a dog. No matter how bad you feel, you instantly feel better when your dog comes up and snuggles you.
I know dogs can’t speak to you. However research does suggest they can understand some human words. But I doubt dogs have a deep understanding about what you’re talking about.
Still, that’s fine.
A dog lets you vent your feelings out and get an emotional release. They’ll sit there wagging their tail as you talk about all the things that are bothering you. It sounds crazy, but it’s actually a very healthy way of getting your thoughts out of your head and into the open. Sometimes, saying things aloud can help you solve problems or feel more at ease.
One of the most common symptoms of a mental health issue is overthinking.
You spend hours every day just staring into space, thinking about the same thing over and over again.
A friend texted you, and they didn’t leave a smiling emoji after you sent one at the end of your message. What does this mean? Are they mad at you? Did you accidentally say something wrong? Should you ask if they’re okay?
You can go mad just thinking about so many possible situations that your mind has completely made up. Most of the time, this is what causes a lot of people to feel anxious or to develop other mental health issues.
Having a dog gives you responsibility. You need to make sure they’re okay, check that they’ve been fed, take them on a walk, groom them, etc. This provides you with endless distractions from the dark thoughts in your head.
You don’t have time to think about anything else because all of your attention is on the dog. They become your number one priority, which gives your brain a chance to relax and switch off for a bit.
Likewise, the mere presence of your furry friend is a distraction. Even if they’re sleeping, you feel inclined to pet them or lie down next to them. They give you an excuse to take your mind off things that are troubling you. As a result, you feel far happier and your head almost seems lighter.
Mental health experts will avoid prescribing medication for mental health issues as you can use it as a crutch. Instead, they often prescribe exercise.
Because there are incredibly strong links between exercise and mental health.
The only problem with this is that it’s hard to exercise. If you’re already feeling down, the last thing you want to do is go and exercise. Again, your dog comes in handy here.
Can you take dogs to the gym? While it would be fun to see them on a treadmill, the answer is no. But, they do motivate you to exercise.
Well, it’s down to their own need for exercise. A dog needs to be out of the house running around for at least half an hour per day. So, they’ll bark and urge you to take them out, which forces you to go outside. Now, you can run with your dog – or even walk as they run; it’s still exercise! You’re in the fresh air, your body is moving, and you start to feel good.
This is a great way to improve your bond and make yourself feel better. The only concern is that you don’t start pushing your dog too hard! You may start feeling so motivated that you want to run up a steep hill. It’s easy for you to get up and down, but not so much for a dog. Before you know it, you hear a yelp as your dog twists its knee and goes down in a heap.
Now, can a dog recover from a torn ACL without surgery? I’m not a vet, so I don’t know. What I do know is that your poor dog can’t walk for a few weeks or months because of your behavior!
So, use your dog as motivation, but don’t go too far and endanger them with extreme exercises.
An underrated benefit of dog ownership is that you become more social. When you’re out walking your dog, you end up bumping into other dog owners. They start talking to you about your dog, and you start forming friendships.
Even if you don’t form proper friendships, you start recognizing people as you go on your walks. They say hello to you, and you wave back at them. It’s not a friendship per-say. But it helps you break down those social barriers.
You see, a lot of people with mental health problems struggle to be sociable. You shy away from other people and avoid eye contact.
Having a dog almost forces you to open up and talk to strangers. Before you know it, you’re far more comfortable in social situations.
Like I said, your dog is a magnet that draws people towards you. Some of them you end up greeting in passing. Others become good friends. They may even suggest you meet up and walk your dogs together regularly. Who knows, this could be how you find your true love?!
I think I’ve made my point pretty clearly: A dog is your window to a more sociable life.
There’s a reason dogs have earned the title ‘man’s best friend.’ That’s how they genuinely you make you feel – like a best friend.
For many people, lack of appreciation is the root of all unhappiness. After all, if you constantly feel like nobody appreciates you, or you’re not valued by anyone, then things just suck.
We’ve all been in this position in one way or another in life. Whether you go through a tough break up and feel worthless. Or you just generally don’t feel like anyone appreciates you. It’s a horrible way to live your life, and a dog comes along and blows all those feelings away.
No matter the day, no matter the weather, no matter the time, your dog will always come to you. If they need food, they come to you. If they need comfort, they come to you. It makes you feel like you are an important person in their life.
The best thing is, dogs are weirdly good at reading human emotions. They know when you’re upset, and they want to help. They’ll come along and snuggle up next to you to let you know you’re not alone. It’s a small gesture. But it means the world to know there’s someone in your life that cares.
Wow, that was a pretty emotional ending.
I think I’ve done a pretty good job of explaining the ways a dog can help you feel happier and healthier.
If you are suffering from mental health problems, or you’re always down, then maybe you should get a dog?
And if you’re not a dog lover, then why did you just read a post all about dogs?
A cat or another pet can still bring many of the same benefits.