When it comes to living with a pet, we can often find they become our crutch. When you have had a tough day at work, coming home to a happy little dog can be all that you need to find a sense of inner peace. At the same time, you might come home and find that your dog has torn apart the new couch through boredom, leaving you furious. However, when it comes to how dogs alter our mood, we have to consider how they make this happen. There have been numerous benefits associated with having a dog in your life.
And yes, sometimes they can be frustrating. Sometimes you will come home to find a dog that has quite literally turned your favourite pair of shoes into dinner. Or they have wrecked the sitting room. Or various other issues. However, through centuries of having a dog as man’s best friend, we have learned one thing in particular: the good far outweighs the bad.
If you want to know just how a dog can impact your mood for the better, then, let us take a look at some of the various benefits that exist. Over the years, many studies have been done into the benefits of having a pet in our lives. Indeed, the CDC has noted that a pet in your life can help with everything from reducing blood pressure to increasing your levels of fitness. How, though, can they impact your mood?
Dogs play a role in stress relief
It is a fact that dogs can be a key part of helping to relieve stress. When you come home to a dog that is in your family home, they can easily become the ideal way for you to get rid of some personal stress that is building up. Spending time around a loyal and happy animal can be a key way to raise your mood and to help you take your mind off the stress of the day.
One of the main reasons why dogs are so commonly associated with improving our stress levels if they help us to think about something else. When we are stressed, we are naturally focused on ourselves, right? You are in a funk, and you keep thinking about the problem(s) you are facing over and over again. You cannot escape them, nor can you shut your mind off from the incessant thinking about said issues.
With a dog, though, you now have an easy excuse to focus on something else. You talk to your dog, and they listen. You give them a treat, and they give you back time and loyalty. You come home to a dog, and you now have something else to focus on and to think about – that is a major benefit, trust us.
There is a huge benefit that stems from having a dog in your life, purely because they can take your mind off your problems – even only briefly.
Freeing your mind from stress is vital
A big part of the reason why having a dog in your house and your family is so useful for stress relief is they allow you to think freshly. When you are focused entirely on the one topic at hand, it is hard to actually think about it properly. You keep running over the same situations and dilemmas without actually creating a single solution. Spend an hour with your dog, though – go for a walk and see the difference.
It isn’t like your dog can actually tell you the solution to your problem, though; that is not the point. The point is that by taking your mind off the problem that is causing you such a headache, you can come back to it later. Devote an hour thinking about your dog and talking to your dog, going for a walk or a run together. You can then find that when you put your dog down to sleep, and your mind reverts back to the issues you are facing, a solution can be more readily found.
For example, anecdotal research shows that taking your mind off a problem can help you to find a solution to it once again in the future. If you are someone who is trapped worrying about a problem, a dog can be essential to help you switch off.
That time spent with your dog allows you to stop regurgitating the problem; when you return to it later, you might see it from a fresher perspective, further boosting your mood.
The exercise is a huge helper, too!
However, outside of giving you time to focus on something else to reset your stress levels, a dog is great for exercise. When you take that dog for a walk or a run or a play session, you are also getting fitness in there. For example, instead of just standing there and throwing a stick, take out a football. Dribble the football around and have your dog play with you. Take shots at goal and your dog will soon bring the ball back for a second attempt.
It’s a good way to run around, get fit, declutter your mind, and spend some time together. We shouldn’t need to point to the benefits of exercise, but they are varied and abundant. From freeing your mind up for a bit of more solid thinking later to helping you cope with stress through to weight loss; exercise is a massive benefit.
Many of us find it hard to locate the time to go and properly exercise, though; that is increasingly common. If you want to find time to go and get into better physical shape, though, a dog plays a huge role in giving you an excuse to get out there and have some fun.
And trust us, your mood will always improve via exercise thanks to the release of dopamine and the feeling of achievement that comes from a little workout that you take on with your pet.
Keep your blood pressure lower
You might think that having a pet as a dog can lead to high blood pressure. As to the issues mentioned earlier, many people have problems when their pet goes crazy at home and destroys something, or does something you don’t want them to do.
However, having a dog could help your heart by reducing blood pressure in quite a few ways. Indeed, it has been found that spending time around a dog will mean you feel less stressed out. This can even help with things like hypertension, with studies in the past showing that dogs can help to reduce blood pressure as the months go on.
Why? Because you get to release some of your own stress. Playing with a pet is fun, pure enjoyment for both of you. This releases and elevates higher levels of serotonin and dopamine, which can help you to feel more relaxed. When the stress of day-to-day life is getting to you, having a pet that is willing to essentially run through walls for you helps you to release some of that stress and feel better at the same time.
It really is a great way to help you keep your blood pressure under control. While a dog cannot be a cure for blood pressure problems, enough evidence shows that they can have a wholly positive impact on your mood and your quality of life. And that, in turn, helps to decrease the levels of blood pressure.
Having a friend is always good
One thing to remember about the benefits of dog ownership is that loneliness plays a massive role in our mood. If you are someone who is a social creature but finds your job limits social contact, for example, it can have a lasting impact on your mood. It can leave you feeling a sense of depression and detachment from the world. However, having a faithful dog at home means you have someone who you can turn to for help and support.
Indeed, companionship is a key part of preventing long-term illness and can quite literally make you live a longer, happier life. Isolating yourself from the interaction can lead to bouts of depression, lower life quality, and likely poorer physical health.
By caring for a dog, you get two amazing feelings: one, the ability to connect with someone else, and two, the ability to feel like you are needed by someone. Nothing beats having the feeling that someone genuinely needs you in this world. So, coming home to a dog that needs your care and love is an amazing feeling – and over time, both of you will become dependent on that feeling of joy that comes from seeing one another.
It’s an amazing feeling and one that can really help to bring you out of a hole. So, if your mood is poor because you don’t get enough contact with others, a dog can help you to find a way around that loneliness.
Dogs can make anxiety easier to cope with
A big benefit of having a dog, too, is that they can play a massive role in making it easier to fight back against anxiety. Indeed, studies in the past have shown that dogs can impact anxiety in a positive way. Again, the reason can be similar to what we spoke about earlier; you take your mind off the stress of the world around you.
That makes it much easier for you to quite genuinely feel like a happier person as you go through your day-to-day life. Spending time with a day means that you spend less time stressing in your own mind, thus meaning you can focus on the things in life that make you genuinely happy.
A dog helps you to become more detached from the thoughts and fears which are making you feel anxious. They can help you to become more mindful, too, and ensure that you stop worrying about the future. Because when you have a beautiful dog at home to care for, it is better to simply focus on the present and enjoy the moment.
Anxiety often stems from thinking about the future whilst fretting about the past. The best way to overcome this is to spend less time thinking about the future and more time thinking about the present. And what better way to focus on the here and now than having a wonderful dog running around the place, wagging its tail, and having fun?
Get out and meet new people
You might not realise it, too, but dogs are excellent for helping you to get out there and meet new people all the time. Why? Because your dog needs you to take it for walks. This means more time in places where you meet might other dog walkers, or even bump into friends or family you do not see enough. This is great because it allows you to really spend more time around other people, which as we noted above is vital to your long-term health and prosperity.
At the same time, you might find that getting out to go and meet new people is an easy way to simply have some fun. You get to be more active, and you might even do things like join clubs that allow your dog to get more training which could again lead to meeting new people.
There are many ways that a dog can improve your quality of life, but their ability to help you socialise and to meet with others is among their most powerful skills. So, why not let your dog make sure you can have all of the fun in the world by interacting with others?
Pets make us become more outgoing and generally more sociable, and this can really feed into the way that you live together. The more your dog encourages you to get outdoors, the more likely you are to meet people, thus benefitting from social relationships that you previously lacked.
It can help the aged, too
If you are looking for a way to help a parent in your life, for example, you might want to think about bringing them a pet. Older people tend to get a lot of benefits out of having a pet to care for. One primary reason is that in older age we can often find that our days just blend into one and fly past without much purpose or reason. However, you can find that an older person benefits from having a pet because it gives them something to focus on and put their energy into.
The whole process, then, can really help the aged improve their mindset. It can make them more outgoing, give them more reasons to do things, and ensures they always have someone to spend time around and keep them socially active.
Whether it’s down to relocation or down to health, senior citizens can often struggle with loneliness. By buying them a dog, though, you could change their mood entirely for the better. So, think about that as you move towards trying to find more ways to support older family members; a pet could be hugely reinvigorating to their day-to-day mood.
Help your children grow
The final benefit we want to push on for a dog owner is that it can really help any children in the family, as well. Choose a kid-friendly breed such as a Golden Retriever or a Poodle and you can change the mood and mindset of your children with consummate ease. They are going to be much more likely to have fun, to be more outgoing, and to take what we call positive risks.
There are a great many benefits of having a family pet in that it can simply improve the mood and the happiness of a child. They will also have someone else to use their massive supply of empathy towards, helping them to really care for the dog and thus form a lifelong bond. Children will grow more confident and generally more outgoing when they are used to social contact and a pet does a tremendous job of giving them that belief and confidence.
So, if you have children at home who might need a bit of help in making sure they can become more assertive and confident, having a dog they can always rely upon becomes very important indeed.
With so much to think about when it comes to getting a dog, you might not be sure where to begin. The benefits above, though, can show you why a dog is an essential ally in creating a more rounded, positive mood for any human being. Whether it’s a senior citizen, a young child, or anyone in-between, spending time around a dog can be essential for cultivating a happy and optimistic mood within the household.
So, if you want to ensure that everyone in your home can be happy as can be with their life, a dog could be an investment that literally improves your life for the better.
Please note: The materials on this article are in no way intended to replace the professional medical care, advice, diagnosis or treatment of a veterinarian. Answers to specific problems may not apply to everyone. If you notice medical symptoms with your pets or have questions on any of the topics raised on this website, please consult your veterinarian.