25 Jan, 2023
Dogs have lived alongside humans for thousands of years, forming incredibly close bonds with one another. For most dog owners, their pups are an integral part of their family, and for a good reason. Dogs will never judge their people and only focus on offering unconditional love and companionship. Being around dogs is an uplifting experience; it is never a dull moment with our lovable goofballs around. Besides making us happier, dogs can positively impact our mental health. Studies have shown that having a dog can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression.
The more scientific way dogs improve our mental health is that studies have shown that interacting with a dog results in the release of oxytocin for both the dog and the human. Oxytocin is a hormone that is associated with happiness and calm. There is a reason why dogs excel in therapy; their presence alone can significantly assist an individual that may be suffering from anxiety, depression, or going through a tough time. Of course, some dogs excel more in the therapy department than others however, any time that there is a pup wagging its tail in front of you, there’s a good chance that it will bring a big smile to your face.
While owning a pet is lots of fun, it also comes with many responsibilities. These animals are 100% dependent on their people for all aspects of their lives, whether that be getting enough exercise, eating good food, or being treated respectfully. Having this responsibility and feeling of purpose is another way that can improve our mental health, especially in the long term.
Not only does having a dog make us enter a structured routine, but completing the daily doggo tasks offers a small sense of accomplishment. Just as making your bed in the morning feels good, taking your pup for their morning walk, or to the dog park, and giving them food and water afterward is fulfilling. Having structure in our day and constantly feeling small senses of accomplishment is excellent for overall mental health.
Anyone who has done a good workout, walk, run, or any physical activity knows how great they feel afterward, physically and mentally. The third way dogs improve our mental health is by keeping us active. Any dog owner will tell you how much more they have walked since they brought their pup home, and if you have a more energetic dog, you may be running more too. Even taking your dog to a field and throwing them their ball will increase your heart rate. The increase in physical activity can positively impact mental health, as physical activity has been shown to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.
There are many ways in which dogs can improve our mental health, whether through the release of oxytocin, the sense of responsibility and purpose, or the additional physical exercise we do. Given that humans are happier when their dogs are around, it is clear why dog ownership is higher than ever before in history, and the rates are continuously climbing. After reading this article and learning about all the benefits your dog has on you, they deserve a nice treat!