Guest Post: Does Opening Up to your Dog Affect Your Mental Health?

July 7, 2017

If you are a dog lover, it has probably happened to you at least once: you are sitting with your dog in some random park conversing with him or her about the joys and sadness of everyday life. Suddenly, you come to the realization that you are not in the privacy of your own home, but rather in a public place and the folks walking by you have been giving you a weird look as you and your pup have been having a heartfelt chat.

Those strangers may think that you are crazy. However, does opening up your heart to a dog adversely affect your mental health in some way or another?



Our Human Need for Companionship

Dog lovers will almost unanimously attest to the fact that having a furry, four-legged friend in the home is good for your health. Studies have repeatedly shown pet owners to have lower blood pressure and better overall health than their “pet-less” peers. However, a recent article in Time Magazine shows that there are also mental health benefits to owning a dog as pets have been shown to lower stress and anxiety.

Sitting down on the couch with your pup after a long and stressful day of work is a great way to
unwind. In fact, petting your dog can even cause your body to release certain relaxation hormones that help to get rid of anxiety. Dogs are usually great listeners and you can rest assured that your dog will never offer some sort of snide remark.

Furthermore, dogs have a resilience and strength of character that is inspiring, to say the least. Even when confronted with a threat to their survival, dogs find ways to overcome the challenges that they face. This resilience and positive outlook on life can often help people find the determination to
improve their own situations.



The Need for Human Contact As Well

While confiding in your dog as a strategy to unwind after a long day of work is a perfectly acceptable coping mechanism and a good way to get rid of the stress and anxiety that too often characterizes our lives, we humans also need to have human companionship.

A person who is experimenting with a new haircut might ask his dog for opinions on his new look when it would obviously behoove him to get feedback from a person who might be able to offer some constructive criticism. Being able to accept criticism is something that we will never be able to get from dogs, yet it is a fundamental part of being human.



Balance is the Key

As with everything in life, finding the right balance between time spent confiding in your dog and sharing your innermost feelings with human counterparts is the key to good mental health. Let your dog listen to your everyday work frustrations, but make sure to find a human listener when you are in need of some good advice.

Bio: Aron James is the founder of StubblePatrol.com. He loves to write about his personal experiences.

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