Dogs – why are they so pawesome?
We all love our dogs and, as the saying goes, they are our best friends. Owning a dog has so many benefits: it makes you more active and therefore healthier; and it reduces stress and feelings of isolation. Owning a dog, or just being around one even for short periods, just makes you feel happier.
At Zetetick we sometimes have a visit from Bobby who is a poochon (a Bichon/Poodle cross). He is very well behaved and mostly sleeps curled up in his little basket, but sometimes he gets inquisitive and likes to find out what’s going on around him. Here he is waiting for a treat before getting to work on the computer!
Working like a dog
Dogs can help and support in the workplace.
Studies have shown that having a dog in the office can improve both physical and mental health. Stroking a dog can reduce stress and help to lower blood pressure, and having a dog around can also improve communication between colleagues, making the organisation more productive.
“When we stroke animals our bodies release oxytocin, a hormone that may bring us closer together with the people around us and can make us feel more confident and optimistic. It can be a really positive experience for everyone.”
Pet Your Stress Away
Many universities in the US run “Pet Your Stress Away” programmes for students to help them with the day to day stresses of study. Scientists at Washington State University found in a study that students who interacted with cats and dogs, even for ten minutes, “had a significant reduction in cortisol, a major stress hormone.”
As well as being wonderful pets, dogs can also provide real support to disabled people and those with mental health problems or learning disabilities. Having a dog around can help promote feelings of calmness and relaxation, whether at home or when out and about. Support dogs can help people to feel more comfortable in social situations, and having a support dog sleep in the same room as its owner can often result in a better night’s sleep.
A support dog can intervene when its owner’s stress and anxiety is getting out of control. Marley, an autism service dog, is shown here interrupting his owner’s attempts to scratch herself in a severe anxiety attack, and gives her hugs and licks away her tears until she calms down again.
While there are so many benefits of being around dogs, we must be mindful to treat them well in return. Take your dog for lots of walks, make sure she is well fed and watered (though don’t overfeed!), make sure she gets enough rest, and finally make sure she has lots of fun with you!