Dogs are one of life’s great joys. They show us unconditional love and affection as well as make us smile even in the darkest days. That’s why they also make great companions and therapists when we are suffering from mental health issues. If you’ve ever struggled with a mental health problem, you may have known the benefits that a good dog can bring.
Dogs have evolved alongside humans for millennia. The earliest humans used dogs for hunting and companionship. More recently, scientists have found that petting dogs can lower blood pressure, slow breathing and heart rate, and reduce the amount of stress hormones in our blood.
For people suffering with anxiety and depression, pets have been found to be a great motivator for social interaction. When you just want to lie in bed and hide from the world, your dog’s need to be walked and fed will force you to get moving. Once you’re moving around, you’ll feel better and be a more active participant in the world. Caring for your dog also gives you a sense of purpose, something outside of yourself to focus on.
Having a dog can also help you become more social. When you walk your dog, people talk to you. Take your pal to a dog park, and you’re bound to speak to another dog owner about your pooch. You might even make a lifelong friend to go on regular walks with along with your four-legged buddies.
Veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder have found that service dogs can help ease their stress. Service dogs can stand in front of their handler in a crowd, wake them from a nightmare or check a room for other people before the veteran enters. Emotional support dogs and therapy dogs can provide love and companionship when a person needs it most.
Some people who connect with dogs may find that becoming a dog walker is an excellent way to make some money while spending time with dogs. If you can’t have a dog where you live, you can bond with other dogs while their owners are at work or on vacation. Spending time throwing a ball with a four-legged friend will put a smile on your face and earn a few extra bucks for you, all while getting you some much-needed exercise.
Being with a dog can distract you from the problems you suffer as well as bring you to the present and help you to focus. Living in the moment prevents you from reliving the past or worrying about the future. Loving on your dog and allowing Fido to love on you can take your mind off of your troubles.
Dogs also prevent loneliness. If you’ve struggled with relationships with romantic partners, family, friends or others, having a dog who loves you unconditionally can make you a lot less lonely. You’ll always have a buddy around to talk to, even if he doesn’t talk back. They are excellent listeners and surprisingly intuitive to your needs. When you’re feeling down, a dog can often sense that you need a little extra cuddling.
Getting a dog isn’t for everyone. They require a lot of work and commitment. But if you do bring a pooch into your life, you’ll never regret it. Your life will be changed forever, and for the better.