Having your dog be your best friend in times of stress
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. The 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 dog owners a better opportunity to bond with their furry friends. 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 all that during some 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.
At a study conducted at the University of Utah, we recently found:
- 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..
Stimulating and fun activities to do with your dog
Creating new creative activities to do with your dog is essential for emotionally and happy content home companions. There are a lot of activities, some of which would include:
Taking 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.
Making 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.
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 it provides mental stimulation.
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.
Teaching new tricks to your dog: 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.
Teach your dog a new trick
There are a lot of tricks you can teach your dog, some of them are:
Shake hands: You should first, present a handful of treats to your dog, and they will naturally be inclined to paw at your hand, and as they are doing it start using the command “shake”
Paws up trick: You should teach your dog to put their front paws up to a high object, a small chair, or tree stump. Have the object you choose next to you and also have a tread in your hand. You should move slowly so your dog follows the treat that you have in your hands. Once you have done this raise your hand and encourage your dog to also raise their front paws. Once their feet are up, you should reward them with a treat of your choice. You should repeat this step until the movement is fluid
Once your dog and you are comfortable with these, you might want to continue to more difficult tricks like teaching your dog to jump on your back or wave.
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How to Be Your Dog’s Best Friend
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. What to do to get the love from 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.
- Dogs need personal space. Respect that. A dog is like a human being. 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 get the dog to the vet – you have to be sure that your dog is healthy.
- Provide the dog with healthy nourishment. The dogs need fresh drinking water constantly. Make sure they are watching you while you are filling the food and water bowls. This way they will recognize you as their primary provider. Consistence on the portion size and feeding times is a great way to keep your dog healthy and happy.
- Dogs need a safe home environment. If you keep the 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 the dog 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 the dog has to experience these too. You have to develop a closer relationship with your dog, this not only helps you but the dog too. The dog can help you to:
- Lower the depression. Scientifically is proven that pet owners are shown to experience less depression.
- Can ease anxiety. Increasing serotonin and dopamine levels in your brain – can help calm and relax. 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.
How to care for your dog if you get sick?
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 to that behavior issues, along with the number and name of your veterinarian in case you have boarded your dog.
- Also, make sure your pet is insured. A study conducted in March 2021 found that only 25% of pet owners have pet insurance
- Give them a blanket for warmth and a toy for comfort.
- Keep the vaccines up to date.
- 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 his/her life!