How Having A Dog Can Help You Manage Your Stress

Chances are if you are already a dog owner, you know that just being around your dog makes you feel good! No matter what kind of day you have had, having the chance to play with your dog, or pet him or go for a walk with him somehow makes everything just a little bit better.

But why is this? Why does being with our dogs help us to cope better and put us in a good mood? Does science have anything to say about this? 

There were two very interesting studies done in 2012 and published in the Journal of Research in Personality on how dogs impact our emotions. In the first study, the research subjects were separated into three groups. The first group had a pet close by, the second group was asked to think about a pet and for the third group there was no pet involvement at all. Then each group was instructed to 1) list their goals and 2) rate how confident they were that they would achieve them.

The results? The first two groups (the ones who either had a pet close by or who had thought about their pets) had a longer list of goals and were much more confident they would achieve them.

In the second study, the subjects were again separated into the same three groups. Only this time, each group was asked to complete a stressful task and at the same time, had their blood pressure monitored. This time, the group who had a pet close by and the group who was thinking of their pets had lower blood pressure.

So, having your pet close by or even just thinking of your pet has the ability to lower your stress levels!

Our dogs also make us laugh, fulfill our very human need for touch, lessen feelings of loneliness and isolation, inspire us to exercise more frequently, lower our blood pressure and actually increase our heart health.

So while we, as humans, want to do everything we can to make sure our dogs stay in the best of health, it turns out that our dogs, by their very presence in our lives, are taking good care of us as well!

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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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