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
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.
- Head tilting
- Jumping up
- Wag tail
- 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
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
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
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?
Why Are Dogs So Great at Helping With Stress?
They offer unconditional love. You're the most important person in your dog's world and the love and affection they show you comes with no strings attached.
They're uncomplicated. Dogs don't worry about the past or the future; they focus on simply living in the moment. They also don't bring any of the stress and complications into your life that people do.
They know how to have fun. Life with dogs is always interesting and never boring. When you're caught up in the mischievous antics of your personality-plus pooch, it's impossible not to relax a little and just enjoy yourself.