How your dog can help to reduce stress and anxiety
Whilst it is normal to feel anxious from time to time, many of us can feel overwhelmed by the current situation, with uncertainty around our work or home life and whether things will ever truly return to ‘normal.’ This can affect both our physical and mental health and make us feel as though we lack control, causing lack of sleep or restlessness which leaves us feeling exhausted.
Often during an emotional crisis, people turn to animals for support and the effects can be amazing. This is one of several reasons why pets have become so popular during lockdown. Dogs in particular can provide emotional support and help us to feel grounded, whilst also encouraging us to get out and get moving about too, which can reduce the duration or severity of stress or anxiety symptoms.
If you’re thinking of getting a dog for emotional support, here are some things you should bear in mind:
Be prepared to be active
You must be ready to exercise your dog every day and help them to stay active. This in turn will help you to feel better by releasing endorphins, whilst experiencing a change of scenery can help you to refocus and reduce any negative feelings and emotions.
It is very important for a puppy to meet other dogs and socialise when they are young and this can also lead to you meeting other dog owners at the same time, whether you are at the park or on your favourite walking routes. It’s always good to get a friendly wave or a hello if you’re not seeing many other people at the moment. Sometimes this can lead to lasting friendships too.
Develop a Routine
A daily routine is not just beneficial for your dog, it can help you to avoid forming any stressful habits and plan your day ahead. A dog won’t let you mope about, you need to feed them, exercise them, play with them and make sure they have regular toilet breaks. By focusing on their needs you have less time to focus on yourself or overthink any problems you may be facing.
A loving companion
Dogs can provide unconditional emotional support, love and companionship without expecting anything in return. A dog will listen without judgment and provide hugs and cuddles to help lower intense stress levels and reduce depressive episodes.
Choosing a breed
Of course, it is important to remember that not all dog breeds make good emotional support dogs. Some breeds can be needy or emotionally draining. So if you’re choosing a dog for companionship, always look at the temperament rather than the look of the dog. If you’re after a larger dog then a Labrador Retriever or Bernese Mountain dog make ideal pets – although they can still be quite boisterous as puppies. If you want a smaller dog then you can’t go wrong with a Cocker or Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Both love snuggling and have low maintenance dispositions.
Does your dog give you emotional support? What breed would you recommend? As always, let us know in the comments section below!