In today’s world, dogs are becoming more and more well known for their awesome abilities as both service and emotional support animals. But like every other treatment out there, it isn’t for everyone. So how do you know if getting a good would be good for your anxiety and/or depression? Here are some things to take into account.
How Dogs Can Help Anxiety and Depression
Dogs are truly amazing animals and a lot of people depend on them for their emotional well being. Here are some of the ways that dogs can be great for anxiety and depression
1. Getting People Outside
With the exception of a few apartment dwellers, most people expect their puppies to poop and pee outside. Guess what the means? You have to take them out no matter the weather or your mood. Getting out in the sun can help increase your vitamin D levels as well as help with feeling grounded.
2. Having Someone Depend On You
For a lot of people with depression, they truly feel that no one needs them. If that is the case, a dog will certainly help you to realize you are needed. They will depend on you for food, water, exercise, and so much more!
If you have heard the song, “I Want You To Love Me Like My Dog” you will have to agree that dogs love so much better than humans ever could.
My dad used to tell a joke that says, “If you want to know who really loves you, take your spouse and your dog and lock them in the trunk for 10 minutes. Then see who is happy to see you when you open it.” (side note here, this is a joke, PLEASE DO NOT DO IT).
A lot of dogs are excellent cuddlers and just love getting all of the attention they possibly can from their human family. If you crave this from an animal, I guarantee owning a dog will lift your anxiety and depression.
In fact, many people with anxiety find that petting a dog drastically decreases their anxiety levels and can help them escape panic attacks quicker.
I’ve mentioned before on my blog just how important exercise seems to be in the world of mental health. While I am not in the best physical shape, I have been working on improving it, and I must admit my puppies have helped with that quite a bit.
In addition to just regular walks, however, a well trained dog is also a great companion on longer hikes that you may not feel comfortable going on by yourself. This can be great exercise for both you and your pooch!
As you get to know your dog better and teach him/her more you may find yourself extremely excited when you and s/he learn to accomplish a new task. The first day without accidents (for a dog that wasn’t previously housebroke) will be a HUGE boost to your self-esteem. Every new trick that they learn will show you that you are good at this and you are a great dog owner. Of course all of the love that s/he shows you will help a lot too!
How Dogs Can Hurt Anxiety and Depression
1. Time and Energy
If you are like me and struggle with finding the time, energy, or “spoons” to complete the tasks you need every day, getting a dog may be overwhelming to you. Dogs take a lot of time. They need fed, walked, played with, (possibly) cleaned up after, and trained. It is all a HUGE learning process and it’s one that shouldn’t be underestimated.
Because of this, dogs can actually worsen depression as you may feel more obligation to do things you just simply aren’t able to do. This can lead to feelings of inadequacy, or worthlessness.
This can also worsen anxiety as it can make you worry whether or not you’re doing the right thing, if other people are judging you when you take the dog out, or even if the dog himself hates you.
Getting a new dog will bring an aspect of failure at some point in time. What I mean by that is, when you’re teaching your dog a new trick or new form of obedience, he is going to make a mistake. In addition to that, though, you yourself will make some as well.
These failures can make it very, very simple to see a decline in your mental state as you may feel guilty for not being perfect. If this is something you struggle with a lot, it may not get the best idea to get a new dog.
3. Germs and Sickness
Like all living creatures, sometimes animals get ill and have to visit the vet. If you are a person with a lot of worry when someone you love isn’t well, this could present a problem
Another thing that may make having a dog difficult is if you have a fear of germs or a fear of vomit. Dogs, especially puppies do lick and sometimes even chew on your hands. There will also be times that you will have to clean up after illnesses such as diarrhea and vomiting.
How To Be A Good Dog Owner When You Have Anxiety and/or Depression
If you’ve decided having a dog would be perfect for you and your family, I would like to include some tips on how to make this a great thing for you and your dog.
Research the breed you’re talking about getting. Find out how much energy they need and some of their quirks. Make sure it fits in well with your family’s style.
Get the dog trained early on. If you plan to train the dog yourself, make sure you’re well versed in how to do that before you get a dog. If you would rather hire a trainer, find one that you agree whole-heartedly with.
Whichever way you decide to train your dog, be consistent, start early, and set limits. I personally believe crate training is a great tool in teaching your dogs to be respectful of your home.
3. Be Patient.
Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day and the fact is you are not going to have the perfect dog in one day either. Just like with kids, dogs take time to learn boundaries, tricks, and even where you want them to go potty. Be kind to your dog and they will be kind to you.