4 min read


Can Dogs Help With Stress?



4 min read


Can Dogs Help With Stress?


Dogs are cute, cuddly, and loyal, and they bring joy and companionship into our lives every single day. But did you know that your dog is much more than just man’s best friend? Numerous scientific studies have shown that dogs are wonderful at helping humans reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and generally help us relax. In our time-poor society where everyone is living hectic lives, this amazing talent is yet another reason why dogs make such great pets.

Let’s take a closer look at how dogs help with stress and what it is about your furry friend that makes him or her the ultimate therapist.


Signs of Dogs Helping With Stress

If you've ever noticed that you feel less stressed after spending some time with your dog, you're not alone. Dogs are remarkably in tune with human emotions and have a unique talent for picking up on how their owner is feeling, and then adjusting their behavior accordingly.

The most obvious way our dogs work to reduce stress is simply by showing us love and affection. When your dog focuses all his attention on you and makes it clear you're the most important, wonderful person in the world, it's hard not to feel a little more relaxed and a whole lot better about yourself.

There are plenty of other things your dog might do to try to improve your mood. It could be a playful nudge with the nose, a jump up into your lap for a cuddle, or simply doing something so cheeky and mischievous that you can't help but laugh. Sometimes, if you're feeling down, it might just be your dog's presence, commitment, and silent support that helps you get your stress levels back under control.

Body Language

Signs your dog is picking up on how you're feeling and helping you relax include:<br/>

  • Alert
  • Head Tilting
  • Whining
  • Listening
  • Jumping Up
  • Wag Tail

Other Signs

Your dog might do one or more of the following to help lower your stress levels:<br/>

  • Give You A Kiss
  • Demand A Cuddle
  • Place Its Head On Your Lap
  • Initiate A Game
  • Do Something Cheeky Or Mischievous
  • Stay By Your Side

The History of Dogs Helping With Stress


Our shared history with dogs goes back a long time. Your canine's ancestors first became domesticated at least 15,000 years ago, and humans and dogs formed a close relationship that provided plenty of benefits for both parties. While our dogs offered protection, sniffed out potential danger and were excellent hunters, we gave our canines food and shelter.

This mutually beneficial relationship also had another outcome: companionship. When we're with dogs, we know that we're loved and needed — and it's the same for our canine companions on the other side of the equation.

Over time, dogs have become some of our closest companions, playing more important roles in our lives than ever before. This was especially the case in the 20th century when dogs completed the transition from outdoor pets to animals that share our homes with us. We now welcome our dogs into every aspect of our lives, and they provide a vital source of love, companionship, and support at all times.

The Science of Dogs Helping With Stress


Have you ever seen a therapy dog visiting a nursing home, cheering up sick kids in hospital, or helping children with autism gain greater confidence and emotional understanding? If so, you've seen first-hand just how paw-some dogs are at improving our overall mental wellbeing.

There's an extensive body of scientific research that shows just how dogs can help reduce our stress levels. Some of the highlights include:

* Talking to and petting a dog reduces your heart rate and blood pressure.

* Dogs provide valuable social support for kids when they're stressed.

* By providing us with attention, affection, and comfort, dogs help us cope better with stressful situations.

* Making eye contact with your dog releases oxytocin, sometimes referred to as "the love hormone". 

* Dog owners get more exercise than non-dog owners, and physical activity is proven to reduce stress.

Training Dogs to Help With Stress


Dogs have an innate ability to understand how we're feeling and pick up on our overall state of mind, so you can't really train a dog to help reduce your stress. Instead, by spending as much quality time together as possible and forming a strong bond, your pet will develop a deeper understanding of when you're feeling happy, feeling blue, or struggling to cope with stress.

There are plenty of simple things you and your pooch can do together to build a stronger relationship, including training, long walks, playtime at the park, or just snuggling up together on the couch. Not only will this help your dog become more in tune with your emotions, but spending time with your furry friend is sure to have positive effects on your mental health.

Of course, some dogs put their stress-relieving talents into action on a much more regular basis by undergoing training to become therapy dogs. To become a therapy dog, a pooch needs to be gentle, calm, affectionate, and friendly with strangers. They'll also need to be well trained to respond to their owner, and well socialized so they can adapt to a variety of new and different sights, smells, sounds, places, and people.

Therapy dog classes and training courses are offered by a number of reputable organizations around the country, so if you think your dog could be suited to this kind of work, why not give it a go?

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By a Labrador Retriever lover Tim Falk

Published: 01/25/2018, edited: 04/06/2020

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