Any dog parent will tell you that owning a dog is much more than just having a fur ball running around your home. A dog is a companion, best friend and bond for life. The joy they bring to our lives is on an entirely different level, and it can only be understood by those who welcome a four-legged friend into their lives.
But what is it about these cute canines that make our love so strong? Dogs have a hugely positive impact on our mental health that can transform how we live.
At Poppy + Ted, we believe a home is not complete without a dog. However, you also need to be able to provide the love, care and safety a dog requires to lead a happy and healthy life. But if that’s not a problem and you’re still debating whether adopting a dog is the right option for you, we want to help. Discover how having a dog can boost your mood and make you happier and healthier.
5 Ways Dogs Can Boost Your Mental Health
Dogs have been man’s best friend since the dawn of time. But it has only been recently that scientific studies have been conducted to learn the true extent of what makes the connection between humans and dogs so deep.
Did you know that 87% of dog owners in the UK believe their dogs make them mentally healthy?
If you’re sceptical about how much dogs can impact your mental health, here are five reasons they can boost your mood and make you happier and healthier overall.
1. Giving You Purpose
For those that suffer from poor mental health, you may feel a lack of purpose in your life. These empty feelings can be hard to battle and make you feel as though your life has no meaning or direction. This can lead to a bored and dissatisfied existence without a way to move past this mental block.
But being a dog parent gives you a new sense of purpose and a reason to get up in the morning. Your dog relies on you for love and care, and providing for them gives you a sense of importance and a feeling of being needed. From letting them outside in the morning to feeding and watering, it can make putting one foot in front of the other each day much easier as you have a furry companion to offer you that unconditional love, support and purpose.
2. Providing Companionship
Did you know that feeling isolated or lonely can trigger depression? Being alone can lead to a tailspin of mental health issues and are typically coupled with feeling like a burden to others or being overwhelmed in public spaces, according to mental health charity Mind. But the general feeling of loneliness is caused by our social needs for interaction and contact going unfulfilled. There are also a number of reasons why feelings of loneliness may be triggered, including grief, moving home or retirement, along with many more major life changes.
Caring for a dog will distract from these feelings of loneliness, and the bond your build with your furry friend will fulfil the desire to be needed. Owning a dog can add years to your life, which will come as no surprise when you experience for yourself a wagging tail bounding towards you for cuddles. Most dog owners will also talk to their furry companions just like they would a friend or family member, and there is no better cure for loneliness than chatting. So, a dog can provide an outlet to get feelings and thoughts off your chest and into the open, as your dog is always happy to lend a supportive ear.
3. Encouraging Exercise
It is well-known that nature and being outside can drastically improve your mental health. Spending time outdoors can boost your mood, relieve stress and anger, and help you feel more relaxed. Not to mention the physical benefits of increased activity and moving more.
Having a dog, no matter what size or breed, requires you to have some form of daily exercise to meet their needs. But in the process, you will also meet your body's needs, which you may have previously neglected or ignored. Walking through the neighbourhood, running or hiking, getting outside and exercising with your dog can boost your emotional and physical well-being.
4. Meeting New People
A large part of feeling isolated and alone can cause you to worry about engaging with others and entering new social spaces. As we have mentioned, you might feel like a burden to others and like your contribution to a conversation is unnecessary. But having your dog by your side is an excellent way to ease yourself into new conversations and social bubbles you might not have previously thought possible.
From your dog making its own furry friend at the dog park to a friendly stranger asking to steal a poop bag, a simple crossed path could spark a new connection when you least expect it. There is also no expectation when it comes to meeting new people in this way. Whether it evolves into a friendship or just settles with a polite nod when you pass again, you can build up your confidence with the help of your four-legged friend.
5. Enabling Structure
A large part of maintaining a happy and healthy life for your dog is to provide them with a sense of structure. As your dog relies on you for pretty much everything and can not tell the time for themselves, they need a structure to keep them sane. However, we humans are the same!
By providing a structure for your dog’s daily life, you’re implementing some structure into your own that breaks the day up from the usual, eat, sleep, work and repeat. From dog walks, grooming sessions, playtime and feeding, our furry friends keep us busy. Having structure in place to take care of them can alleviate stress, no matter our mood, as we need to work through these thoughts and feelings to get stuff done and, in turn, move on.
Can a Dog Improve Your Mental Health?
If you have been suffering from feelings of loneliness or depression, adopting a dog might help you overcome these consuming emotions. By giving you a new purpose, encouraging routine, or simply being a comforting presence in your life, dogs do just as much for us as we do for them.
So, are you ready to commit?
Before deciding to welcome a dog into your life and home, you must ensure you can provide them with everything they need. Dogs are a big commitment, from plenty of space and time to move and exercise to a safe space to eat and sleep. But the reward speaks for itself.
Do your research and determine whether owning a dog is right for you. If the answer is yes, start looking to the excitement of creating a space for them in your home. From stocking up on supplies like collars, leads and grooming essentials to more accessories, we have it all and more at Poppy + Ted.