How Having A Dog Can Help You Cope With Anxiety

With everything going on in the world today, from the rise and spread of the coronavirus to financial uncertainty, none of us are immune to the debilitating feelings that wash over us when we feel anxious. Anxiety can rob us of our productivity, our focus, our sense of well-being and our joy.

But having a dog can greatly help those who suffer from anxiety to cope and to feel better. Just being in the presence of a dog and stroking his fur has a definite calming effect on an anxious person. 

According to research by the Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI), interactions between people and their dogs have a wide variety of beneficial effects, including the release of hormones which are positively correlated with well-being such as hormones correlated with well-being including oxytocin, b-endorphin, prolactin, and dopamine.

The particular breed of dog doesn’t matter. Purebred to mutt, all dogs can bring comfort and companionship to people who need it. There are particular breeds though that are better suited to an individual’s particular circumstances.

People cope with anxiety in different ways. Some people like to just cocoon at home, curling up with a book or just watching a movie on tv. If that’s you, a homebody breed like a bulldog or bulldog mix would be happy to keep you company. Of course, just like every other breed, a bulldog needs exercise, but these happy dogs are a lot more low energy than other breeds and are content to spend a laid back afternoon just hanging out with you.

If you are a person who addresses anxiety by getting out and moving, then a higher energy dog such as a Border Collie or Australian shepherd might just be the perfect companion. These dogs love to work, and adapt well to playing, running and exercising along with their owners.

Other dogs, such as the Golden Retriever, have a calm, steady disposition and just being in their presence can reduce a person’s anxiety.

So, no matter your choice, in turbulent times, when anxiety threatens to prevail, a dog by your side is your best defense.

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By Ellen Britt

Dr. Ellen Britt has loved dogs since she was a child. She is particularly fond of the Northern breeds, especially Alaskan Malamutes. Ellen worked as a PA in Emergency and Occupational Medicine for two decades and holds a doctorate (Ed.D.) in biology.

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