Hello! While I wait on some things to come together for the program, I thought I'd start talking about the benefits of utilizing dogs in mental health therapy. These top 5 are based on what I hear others say, and what I have seen to be pretty significant when working with mental health patients.
5. Dogs will never judge you
Have you ever heard the saying "Be the person your dog thinks you are"? That is because your dog adores you. Your dog thinks you are the best person in the world, and your dog loves you unconditionally. Dogs don't care about what you're wearing, what your hobbies are, or who you're dating. All they care about is that you take care of them, feed them, play with them and take them for walks. No need to impress your dog with fancy name brand cars! They'll still get those back seats dirty ;)
4. Dogs can sense when you're feeling down
Have you ever come home in a bad mood, sit down on the couch and start crying? Do you ever notice how your dog will notice and come sit with you? They may even cuddle you. That's because dogs are pretty receptive to human emotions. They can tell when you're not being your normal cheery self. The best part is, they'll just cuddle you with no explanation needed.
3. Dogs won't talk back
Ever try to talk about your problems to a friend and all of a sudden they've engaged you in a "my life is worse than yours" debate? Who needs that when you're just trying to vent! Unless your dog is like mine, who loves to hear her own bark sometimes, he or she more than likely will probably just give you a blank stare when you try talking. They may not understand what you're saying, but they're definitely not talking back. Some studies have even shown that talking to your dog can improve mental health!
2. Dogs can help increase your physical fitness
Let's face it, dogs need exercise. They need to play and go for walks. Unless you're super rich and can afford a dog walker, often times you're taking your dog for walks around the block at least a few times a week, if not every day. Walks are essential for dogs' and humans' health and wellbeing. They has been shown to be an effective coping skill. Plus walks get you outside and exposed to sunlight, which we all have heard can reduce the effects of depression or anxiety. Middle of winter? I got creative this year and walked my dogs on our treadmill. It can get tricky and you need to make sure you are doing it safely (starting slow and never increasing the speed to quickly), but I've made it work a few times. Try it, it's fun!
And the final reason why dogs are such good therapists:
You can't help but smile when you see a dog! I dare you to try, unless you're an absolute dog hater. Which, if that's the case, you're in the wrong blog :) Dogs tend to make us feel happy just by being in the room with them. You can pet them, cuddle them, throw a ball to them. It doesn't matter, they're just happy interacting with you!
I'm sure there are more reasons why dogs make the best therapists, but these are the reasons I hear most often. Of course, dogs sometimes make us frustrated when they just won't potty outside or don't want to sleep in, but I would say that those moments that they are able to make us feel good definitely outweigh the frustrating moments. Otherwise I don't think we would want to be around them so much!
What about you? What are your experiences with dogs? I'd love to hear from you! Write a post below and be sure to subscribe to get updates sent straight to your inbox!