How Dog Ownership Improves Mental Health
May 1, 2019
Did you know that owning a dog can significantly improve your mental health? Dog owners everywhere agree that their pets add love and depth to their lives.
How is this possible? Is this just something that obsessed dog owners say to justify their relationships with furry friends, or is there some truth that adding a loyal dog to your life improves every aspect of life?
Scientific research has been conducted on the impact that having a pet in your home has on life, health, and relationships, and it has proven that having a relationship with a dog can improve your mental health.
Dogs Can Help Reduce Depression Symptoms
With the introduction of AAT, or animal-assisted therapy activities as part of depression treatment, people suffering from depression noted a significant decrease in the number and severity of symptoms, even when it was reported that they’d had the diagnosis for years. Dogs also help reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness, something we particularly tend to struggle within our modern society. AAT has been known to reduce feelings of loneliness in patients residing in long-term care facilities. People that had experienced favorable interactions with therapy animals began reaching out to patients and caregivers around them, increasing their interactions and making connections with others.
Dogs Inspire Family Time
Studies show that families who adopt or raise a dog to participate in more leisure activities and family time than those who do not. Interpersonal relationships, as well as relationships with the family pet, are notably improved during these interactions. Make sure to get a breed that blends well with the family, such as a beagle, a golden retriever, or even a German Shepherd (if you want a guard dog as well).
Dogs Increase Our Capacity For Empathy
The presence of a dog in the home increases our capacity for empathy and compassion. Looking at that relationship requires that we identify with feelings that are unique to our dogs, and to anticipate what their needs and desires must be. By giving them what they want and need, it deepens our connection with them.
Dogs Ease The Trauma Caused by PTSD
PTSD support animals are used to decrease stress and the after-effects of trauma on abuse sufferers, military service members, and people suffering from mental and emotional distress as a result of a traumatic event. Creating a relationship with therapy dogs allows people with PTSD to step outside of those tragic memories and remain in the present moment for more extended periods of time.
Dogs Reduce Our Stress!
If this isn’t reason enough to adopt a furry family member, I don’t know what is! It was found that interacting with a dog during a break in a workday significantly reduced levels of cortisol–a known stress hormone–in the body. The next time you see a pet in your workplace, stop and say hello. It will benefit both of you!
Dog Owners Have Better Sleep
What better way to unwind and relax after a long day than by playing a rousing game of catch with your dog? That’s bound to tire both of you out—dog owners tend to experience better sleep than those without dogs. It is also noted that dog owners have better levels of health and fitness and resisted illness more effectively.
Yes, you might be considering all of the cons, whether it’s the potential noise, training demands, or even the poop (but, hey, there’s a service to help with that), that might be deterring you from getting a furry friend. Well, it’s time to consider all of the positives. With all of the noted benefits of owning a dog, how can you justify not running to your nearest animal shelter and looking for the perfect companion for you and your family? Dogs are loyal, devoted friends and they will improve your life in ways that you never imagined possible. If you haven’t already done so, consider adding more depth and richness to your life; adopt a dog today!