Can Dogs Help with Anxiety?

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Introduction

Any pet owner will attest to the fact that dogs can be an instant mood-lifter, no matter what's going on in your life. Professionally trained dogs have been used for many years to help people that suffer from disabilities, and now researchers are saying dogs can indeed help with anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions. 

Sure, a lick to the face from your furry friend is sometimes all it takes to bring a smile to your face, but if your stress and anxiety runs deeper than that, turning to your pup for help may be just what the doctor ordered.

Introduction of Can Dogs Help with Anxiety?

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Signs a Dog Can Help with Anxiety

If you are feeling nervous, anxious, depressed, or stressed out, you may want to think about getting a dog or spending some time with a dog before picking up the prescription meds. 

In fact, new research shows that service dogs and companion animals are extremely effective in treating anxiety and improving overall health and well-being. Emotional Support Animals (ESA) are wonderful therapy animals that can help lift your spirit and bring you back to life. If you are struggling with the small things in your life or just can't get out of a funk, it may be time to turn to Fido for help. 

Many people who suffer from anxiety avoid contact with other people and the outside world at all costs, which often makes things worse. Dogs are a wonderful way to break that cycle, as they provide comfort and a sense of purpose for those struggling with anxiety. If you or someone you know is suffering from severe anxiety, a companion dog may help in many different ways. 

Body Language

Here are some signs your dog may show that can help with anxiety:
  • Staring
  • Alert
  • Listening
  • Wag tail
  • Ears drop

Other Signs

These are ways a dog can help with anxiety:

  • Constant companionship
  • Increase in exercise
  • Helps you meet new people
  • Adds structure and routine to your day
  • Provides sensory stress relief
  • Helps you stay connected

History of Dogs Helping with Anxiety

History of Can Dogs Help with Anxiety?
Dogs have long been used by police units for their sense of smell, temperament, and tracking abilities, but their ability to help individuals suffering from anxiety is a more recent development. When most of us think of police dogs, German Shepherds come to mind. However, over the years we have learned that a wide range of breeds can offer emotional, mental, and physical assistance. 

During the First World War, Germany relied heavily on dogs as both ambulance and messenger dogs, and since then, programs aimed at training dogs for many purposes have popped up all over the world. The first school focused on training dogs to help deaf people launched in 1982, and since then we have seen hundreds, if not thousands, of similar schools. 

Science Behind Dogs Helping with Anxiety

Science of Can Dogs Help with Anxiety?

When it comes to dogs and anxiety, the research is relatively new. Sure, dogs undoubtedly lift our moods and bring more joy to our lives, but where's the scientific proof? In recent years, numerous studies have been conducted that display how beneficial pets, namely dogs, are to our health. 

This is especially true for individuals who suffer from anxiety and depression. While owning a dog is certainly not a cure for mental illness, it can be quite beneficial for those who have the time and money to care for a dog. Dogs require time and attention and can also impact your social activity, however, the benefits of having a loving dog in your life are endless. 

People who suffer from anxiety often find themselves 'spinning' and getting caught up in a cycle of negative thoughts, something which dogs can help get you out of. If are plagued with anxiety, can afford a dog and have the time to properly care for them, it is certainly something to consider.

Training Your Dog to Help with Anxiety

Training of Can Dogs Help with Anxiety?
As mentioned, there are numerous schools dedicated to training dogs to help with a wide range of conditions, including anxiety. Emotional Support Animals (ESA) are everywhere these days, and for good reason. Many people choose to have their dog professionally trained to help individuals with disabilities, both mental and physical. On the other hand, simply owning a dog for companionship is enough for many people with anxiety. 

If you want to go the professional route, there are probably numerous agencies and organizations in your city that offer ESA and service animal training. You may start with reaching out to local shelters and finding out about their adoption services, as bringing a dog of any breed into your home for companionship may be the ticket to getting over anxiety.

Safety Tips for Using Dogs for Anxiety

  • Don't forgo medical treatment without talking to your healthcare professional.
  • Select a dog with the right temperament to decrease stress levels instead of increase them.
  • Always seek professional dog training before using your pooch as a therapy dog.