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Dogs and Their Effects on Mental Health and Wellness

Madelene Hissom · Mar 11, 2022

Author: Keren Dinkin

Many scientists believe that interacting with dogs has a positive effect on a person's psyche. Below, we'll discuss how your four-legged companion can help you manage psychological issues caused by day-to-day challenges.

How Dogs Help With Mental Health

Studies have shown that poorly regulated levels of cortisol—the stress hormone—can lead to mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, stress, and PTSD. While you can take different kinds of synthetic medicine to keep your mental health in check, did you know that there is an easier and simpler way to manage these issues?

One way to do so is spending more time with your dog. Your beloved pet can help keep your mental health in shape in a few different ways:

1. Exercise

Studies show that a regular exercise regimen regulates endorphin levels, thus aiding in the battle against depression. Most dog breeds need daily exercise to remain happy and healthy, so you will always have a reason to stretch your legs and exercise your muscles alongside your pet.

Many people struggle with maintaining a consistent workout schedule. They turn to fitness instructors or look for gym buddies to keep them motivated. One of the best things about being a dog owner is that your pet can be your accountability buddy; it can help you remain motivated to stay active every day.

Whether it's heading out to your favorite store to grab a few treats like trachea, gullet sticks, beef jerky, and collagen sticks or going for a simple walk in the park, use this opportunity to squeeze in a bit of exercise in your busy day.

Here are some other benefits exercise can have on your mental health:

  • Improved sleep patterns
  • Better overall health
  • Reduced stress levels

2. Socializing

Regular interaction with humans and other sentient beings is vital in maintaining your mental health. Studies show that people who are lonely and unable to socialize with others are more susceptible to depression. 

Thankfully, dogs are naturally sociable animals. They are happy to give you lots of attention even when you're alone at home, and they make it easier to connect with other people when you're outdoors. And due to their friendly natures, dogs are often used as therapy animals to help people with social anxiety disorders and other mental health issues. 

Some people may be introverted and find it difficult to interact with strangers. With a dog by your side, you'll have a cute conversation starter by your side all the time! 

You’ll be surprised at how many people you'll be able to make friends with—so many people will be instantly willing to strike up a conversation with you just to find out about your dog. Just bring your beloved pet for a walk in public whenever you feel the need for a bit of socializing.

3. Self-Worth

Mental health issues often manifest in feeling unworthy or lacking purpose. Dogs are very friendly by nature, and they'll always be happy to see you no matter how you look or what kind of day you're having.

Your dog will always want to spend time with you, whether it’s just lounging inside the house or going on an adventure at the park. Dogs are excellent at reinforcing self-worth, and it’s easy to give them plenty of love and attention in return.

Furthermore, research shows that responsibility helps improve your mental state. Since dogs need a lot of care and attention each day, your sense of responsibility and purpose will be heightened when you take care of the regular chores that come with owning a dog. 

4. Structure

When you struggle with mental health issues, one of the most difficult battles is sticking to a routine or finding structure and meaning in life. Your dog will always need to be fed, walked, and cleaned up after. If you adopt a puppy, you'll also have to train it and make sure it respects your authority.

When life throws difficult challenges your way, it's easy to become disorganized and find yourself unable to stick with a productive routine. Your dog can help you maintain structured days because of its daily needs. 

Your dog will always be your best friend. It will always be there for you to lean on during hard times, and simple things like feeding it and taking it out for a walk can do wonders for your mental health.

The Takeaway

Dogs don't just give unconditional love and affection. They also help people maintain healthy physical, mental, and emotional habits. The simple act of caring for a dog can provide structure to your days, reinforce your self-worth, and help you get the exercise and socialization you need. 

A dog is not just a companion for life. It will also help you take significant steps to keep your mental health in good shape.