Change Your World

Being The Best Me I Can Be

5 Reasons My Dogs Are My Best Therapists

33 Comments

I love my dogs and cats and can always come up with an excuse to talk about them. They are a source of great happiness for me.  Since I am home right now, I spend a lot of my time  just hanging out with them and can testify to the fact that I get a lot from the relationship I have with them.   I am so close with my 13 year old sheltie corgi mix, Minnie, that she can sense when I am having a bad day and will not leave my side until I am doing better.  When I am manic and raging, instead of hiding from me, she will come to me and do her absolute best to take my attention away from whatever is upsetting me.  She is an amazing creature and I am so thankful for her.  I truly believe that she and my other animals are simply love incarnate.

 

My Minnie

My Beautiful Girl, Minnie. She’s just a little spoiled.

 

Animals have been used for years in therapy and there is growing evidence that they provide relief for a large variety of illnesses and conditions, including mental illness. Many types of animals have been used for years as therapy animals (see my post on animal assisted therapy) in a variety of settings .  Just having pets has been proven to provide all sorts of health benefits for their owners such as lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and increasing serotonin and dopamine.  Animals in a therapeutic setting have been shown to help facilitate healing, improve self esteem and reduce anxiety about medical procedures.  I definitely get a lot from the relationship I have with my animals, even though it is not in a therapeutic setting.   Here are my top 5 reasons that my dogs are my best therapists.

1. They Decrease My Depression

When I am in the midst of depression, I isolate myself completely from people. My dogs provide me with companionship during these times.    They also provide me with a connection to this world when my depression takes a serious downward turn.  Sometimes just their presence can divert my thoughts away from what is bothering me. Their unconditional love and acceptance offer me a source of solace when I am too ill to deal with other people.

hugging dog

2. They Decrease My Anxiety

When my anxiety is really high, just sitting and petting my cat can help to sooth my frayed nerves.  They love the attention and will sit there as long as I am willing to love on them.  It helps to calm me down and offers me a distraction from what is disturbing me.  If I am really upset about something my dogs will come and sit with me until I feel better.  Just sitting their and snuggling with one of my dogs helps to lower my stress and consoles me.

petting a cat

3. My Dogs Will Listen To Me Endlessly

While most people only have, at the most,  an hour with their their therapist, a dog will listen to you endlessly.  When I am trying to work something out, I sometimes talk to my dogs about it.  It helps me to organize things in my head and provides me a sounding board for ideas.  Sometimes it is just better to hear something out loud and they don’t care what you are saying, just as long as you are paying attention to them.

talking to dog

4. They Increase My Happiness

Watching my dogs play is a source of great happiness for me.  I love to watch them chase each other around and act goofy.  I also love playing fetch with them or sitting down and teaching them new tricks.  Even in the midst of depression or anxiety, watching them enjoy themselves and seeing that they are happy, makes me smile and improves my mood while I am paying attention to their antics.

playful dog

5. My Dogs Increase My Socialization

Even in the midst of severe depression,  I have to walk my dogs every day and that puts me out amongst other people.  Often times, people want to stop and pet them or ask questions about them.  Other pet owners will want to stop and chat with me about my dogs.   The dogs want to greet and play together and that makes time to interact with the owners.  It helps to distract me from my depression because I have an opportunity to talk about my dogs with others who have the same interest.

walking dog

I get so much out of the relationship I have with my animals.  I have always been around animals and cannot imagine a life without them.  I strongly recommend pet ownership to anyone.   I do so with a caveat, however.  If you are going to bring home a pet, do it knowing that you are committing to a relationship that spans their lifetime, whatever that may be. Just as you will form an attachment to them, they will do the same with you.  Keeping them while it is convenient for you and then giving them away is not only cruel, it is destructive to the animals well being.  This was always a pet peeve of mine when I was working as a veterinary technician.  I strongly urge research into the type of animal that you would be most comfortable with and that will fit easily into your lifestyle.  For example, if you live in an apartment, you definitely wouldn’t want to get a dog like a Labrador Retriever , who is high energy and requires a large yard.  Also, if you are not home a lot, a cat or a fish may be more appropriate.  There are all sorts of  websites that will help you decide what type of pet is good for you (Selectsmart, Pet Picker).  I would also urge adoption or rescue above purchasing from a breeder any day.  The cost is a lot lower and you will be providing a home to an animal in need. I’ll get down off of my soapbox now.

I am obviously in favor of having pets in your life.  I have 4 dogs and 2 cats and they bring me so much joy and unconditional love. It is worth every penny that I spend on their care and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.  See the videos below for more information on animal assisted therapy and choosing a pet that fits into your lifestyle.

 

 

This post is happily shared on thatredheadedlife.

 

 

 

 

 

Author: mschristopher13

I am the author of the Change Your World Practice at http://changeyourworldpractice.org/. I am also a wife, mother and sister (I'm one of six children). My strongest desire is to help others live their best lives and I am hoping that by writing about the practices that help me be my best self that I can help others do the same.

33 thoughts on “5 Reasons My Dogs Are My Best Therapists

  1. Awesome just..very great description
    and true even..

  2. Dogs really are wonderful, aren’t they!?! We used to have three, but lost all (due to age) and haven’t adopted a new one yet. Very soon though!

  3. Awwww, so cute. It’s so true about relaxing with pets! A great cycle of love!!!!

  4. I have been surprised at how much my dogs desire my company despite the fact that there are 3 of them to keep each other amused. It must be a subliminal human/canine connection.

  5. My older daughter keeps asking me for a dog but where I’m from we’re not used to having them in the house. However we’re considering one once we get our own house.

  6. Aww that picture of Minnie squished into the bed is so cute! I can’t wait until we have enough time to care for a doggy.

  7. Dogs are awesome. My pets have always made me happy when I was around them.

  8. We have two dogs. We love them for snuggles and they improve our moods!

  9. I love your post and videos! I have 2 fur kids and they are the loves of my life. I agree with you, they do help with depression for sure. It is unconditional love. Oh, one fur kid, Gracie, is a 10 years old toy poodle and the other, Kaylee, is a 4 year old yorkie. My fur kids are sending lots of love and WOOFS to your fur kids! 🙂

  10. What a wonderful post! My cats make me so happy and add so much to my life. Animals truly are such a gift 🙂

  11. We have a 3yr old pug.. and she is the best dog i could have asked for.. she listens to me and does not answer back..

  12. I love this post. I don’t know how many times I have talked to my dog when I was feeling down. Dogs are amazing and more than just pets.

  13. Dog’s are compassionate, mine listen’s to me endlessly especially when I’m mad she even see me cry during my down moments.

  14. And those are five great reasons to get a pet or a dog. 🙂
    I’ve heard my friends speak of their own pets just like you did and it’s great that people can get that kind of joy & love not from another human being. Right?

  15. Dogs are such stress buster because of their loyalty and playfulness.

  16. Really great information. We recently moved to a bigger house with a big yard and my husband is trying to talk me into a dog. This will help.

  17. They really do have a sense of when they’re needed for comfort, etc. I’m not surprised you have a little furball sticking to your side. 🙂

  18. My three year old dog has taught me that dogs are not just pets, they are are friends.

  19. I totally agree with you about them being therapy. I have fibromyalgia and sometimes have to roll out of bed cause I hurt so bad. I have three dogs to big one small. I know I have to care for them so I have to do what I do for them. They keep me moving even though I hurt. When I am really depressed they pull me out by showing they love me. Thanks for sharing.

  20. I love this! My dog is my therapist too! He listens and never complains. 🙂

  21. Awesome words. Whenever I feel depressed or go through some piss taking moment, I always cuddly my jimmy(my dog’s name ♥ ). It really helps me to cope up with the situation.

  22. I totally agree with what you said.. I don’t have a pet but having a dog or a cat teaches you about unconditional love..

  23. Pets are great therapists and friends! Our pets have been really important for my son.

  24. Hello there! Love this site. I am a 33 year old girl who is a lawyer, wife and suffers from Bipolar 1 Disorder. I’ve just started my new blog. I’d like to share it with you and if you like it, maybe you could share it with your readers. I’d be happy to link back to your site on my blog. Us crazies have to stick together, right? Thanks! Website is http://www.my-carousel.com

  25. Dogs make the best friends. Anytime I feel depressed, I just snuggle up with mine and watch TV or take a nap. It really helps. 🙂 I love the pic of yours laid on it’s back! How cute!

  26. LOVE this post!!! I am so into this and I have a dog and I can relate to the entire post. Thanks for the dog-friendly posting.

  27. I don’t have a dog but my birds are like therapy for me

  28. Dogs are the absolute best!! Thank you so much for linking up with Monday Morning Mommy. Hope to see you next week.

  29. Can i please know why they have to have “evidence” if a lot of people see clearly that animals help them? These animals are more in-tuned to people’s emotions and body language than we ever will be. Sorry but its true.

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