Self-Care Sunday: Handle Stress by Bonding With Your Dog
Find creative ways to handle stress with a companion who will always be there for you. Your dog. Since the start of the covid-19 pandemic, a lot of us have been “forced” to spend a lot more time at home and re-imagine our relationships with family and friends. Feelings of loneliness and isolation have increased with the loss of face-to-face social interaction while being in lockdown or quarantine. But on the bright side, it has given a lot of pet owners a better opportunity for bonding with your dog. It has made them companions for life.
All pets, but dogs, in particular, have a unique ability to provide their owners a lot of emotional support and love, and more during stressful times. They bring a lot of fun to the home and keep you in the present moment, rather than overthinking an uncertain future. That being said, a lot of studies have shown that dogs provide comfort, which is at least equal to a close friend.
A study conducted at the University of Utah showed that:
- Having a dog is associated with lower cardiovascular responses, surprisingly, even lower that of having a close friend close to you.
- Therapy dogs have been shown to alleviate distress in chronic pain patients. So having a dog could make a significant contribution in aiding social welfare situations.
- Dogs have a very important role also in psychiatric settings, successfully being used with patients that are struggling with loneliness, depression, phobias, schizophrenia, and addiction.
- Dog owners have significantly lowered distress and nervousness feelings.
So if you have a dog, consider spending time with it and bonding as a way for self-care and stress relief during busy times!
Stimulating and fun activities to do with your dog
Finding new creative activities to do with your dog is essential for emotionally and happy content home companions. Some activities that also provide a respite from the stresses of daily life include:
- Take long hikes and walks: Getting much-needed exercise for yourself is just one of the benefits of going on a long walk. You also explore new areas and make a welcomed break from the repetition routine of the gym.
- Make homemade dog treats: This not only allows you to spend quality time with your dog but also tests your culinary skills, which from time to time could help to improve your diet. Make tasty treats for your pup and get your kids involved in the fun!
- Training: When you’re spending time at home, you have more time to improve your dog’s behavior and also train. This will improve your dog for life and also provides mental stimulation – for both of you.
- Just chill: Snuggling up together on the couch after a long day, while watching a movie could be the perfect way to cap off a busy day.
- Teach new tricks: In order to create a closer bond, teaching your dog new tricks is the most powerful way. Besides the new tricks that your dog learns, this will also help improve overall manners and obedience and at the same time increase your dog’s flexibility, concentration, and balance.
How to Bond with Your Dog
Like every other relationship, you get what you put in. Well, dogs are no different; make sure to respect your dog’s needs. In return, they are willing to give you their respect, loyalty, and love. What ways strengthen your bond with your dog?
- Practice regular grooming: Make sure to wash your dog properly and brush their hair at least once a week. If your dog is outside playing and it is the rainy season, make sure to rinse them afterward. Note: You have to use shampoo and other products dedicated and designed for dogs.
- Give them personal space: Respect that. A dog is like a human being in the way that they need time to rest and relax. This affects their well-being. It is very important to allow your dog this time and space. Understanding their body language allows you to know when your dog might need time to rest alone.
- Take your dog to the vet: To keep your dog happy and up-to-date on vaccinations you have to take it to the vet. If you are feeling that your dog is showing signs of discomfort, take him to the vet – you have to be sure that your dog is healthy and want to catch any health issues early before they progress.
- Provide the dog with healthy nourishment: Dogs need fresh drinking water constantly. Make sure they are watching you while you are filling their food and water bowls. This way they will recognize you as their primary provider. Find the best dog food for their size, breed, and health conditions. Consistence on the portion size and feeding times is a great way to keep your dog healthy and happy.
- Create a safe home environment: If you keep your dog indoors, you have to make sure to keep cleaning products and other stuff out of their reach. If you are keeping the dog outside, make sure your backyard is fenced to keep them safe!
Health benefits of dogs
Living in these unprecedented times, many of us have experienced a lot of stress, depression, and anxiety. But that doesn’t mean your dog has to experience these too. Developing a closer relationship with your dog not only helps you but your dog too! Your furry friend can help:
- Lower depression: Pet owners are shown to experience less depression.
- Ease anxiety: Pets can increase serotonin and dopamine levels in your brain – in turn helping you stay calm and relaxed. Playing with your dog can increase those levels.
- Reduce your stress: Owning a dog can reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and even calm your heart rate.
- Add companionship: If you are feeling alone – dogs can provide a great source of friendship.
Create a Caring Plan for Your Dog
If you are not feeling well lately and become sick, you should have a caring plan for your dog. Make sure to arrange a family member or even a friend to care for your dog. Make sure your dog is always wearing a collar for identification that is visible all the time. You should always write information about your dog’s medical and feeding schedules. Also add any behavior issues, along with the number and name of your veterinarian in case you have boarded your dog.
Make sure your pet is insured. A study conducted in March 2021 found that only 25% of pet owners have pet insurance. Your dog will miss you so give them a blanket for warmth and a toy for comfort. Keep their vaccines up to date and make sure that all the medications are well documented with all necessary information such as dosages and administering directions.
No matter who you are to everybody else, to your dog you will always be the most important thing in their life! Bonding with your dog can be a great way to practice self-care, teach your kids to handle more responsibility, and handle stress.