6 Ways Your Dog is Giving You Free Therapy

6 Ways Your Dog Is Giving you Free Therapy

It’s okay to admit it.

You love your dog more than some of your closest friends and family members.

Only dog lovers understand the immense power of the relationship between humans and their furry companions. A dog is not only human’s best friend, but also can offer you things that even a highly trained psychologist cannot (including weekend availability and 24 hour emergency care!)

Don’t have a dog but want one? This article might help you justify the time and expense.  Here are the 6 ways your dog is giving you free therapy and you might not even realize it.

1. Pooping on Your Persian Rug

We all know we should be getting regular exercise. Exercise improves mood, increases energy levels and helps your body create natural endorphins.

You might read all kinds of blogs about how to get into a regular exercise routine, but your dog has a much more rapid approach to get you out the door and moving.

Do not replace your beautiful hand-knit rugs with linoleum! By taking your dog on long walks or runs, you are getting the exercise that you need and deserve, and your dog will thank you by not having “accidents” in your living room.

2. Showing You How Ridiculous You Sound

When your thoughts are revolving silently around your own brain it’s easy to convince yourself that  you are making sense when you’re not. Whether you are beating yourself up for a mistake you made, assuming the worst case scenario, or your self-critic is being particularly harsh, try this strategy.

Make eye contact and state your thoughts out loud directly to your pooch:

  • “I have a headache. It must be a brain tumor.”
  • “I can’t believe I made such a fool of myself. I’m sure everyone is talking about it non-stop”
  • “If I speak up to my boss, I’ll lose my job and the next thing I know I’ll be living out of a box begging for food.”

Whatever it is that is keeping you up at night might not actually be as bad as it sounds. Once you say it out loud your dog will probably look at you quizzically and help you see the situation more logically.  This is a great strategy because you don’t have to wake anyone up at 3 a.m.

3. Helping you with Stress Management

This one is much easier and it’s backed up by actual science. All  you have to do is sit down and pet your dog. Mere contact and the motion of stroking his or her fur will bring your heart rate down and release oxytocin, which is the hormone that contributes to feelings of calm and contentment. (NCBI Study)

4. Staying Quiet While You Practice Your Script

Do you have an interview coming up? Perhaps you are presenting a workshop, or planning a conversation with the cute person in your apartment complex.

We know that performance anxiety decreases radically through practice and repetition. You are less likely to clam up when you have over-prepared the content of your speaking points.

Practice your script for your dog. You have a captive audience to practice as many times as you need, and you won’t hear any criticism or unsolicited advice

5. Facing Your Fears

Maybe you’re afraid of your attic when all the lights are out.

Or perhaps you are a bit of an introvert and feel uneasy starting up a conversation (on your morning walk around the block).

Maybe the scariest place for you is sitting down on the sofa with your laptop facing the project you’ve been avoiding.

Bringing your dog with you is a great way face your fears, whatever they may be. Just a little side-kick of confidence can help make it a little bit easier to do the thing you have been avoiding, but know will feel better once you do it.

6. Reminding You how Awesome You Are

You are amazing. If you don’t know this by now, your dog definitely does. He or she has been trying to show you multiple different ways.

Now it’s your turn to start paying attention!

Laura and Her Dog, Cocoa

More by Laura Silverstein:

Free Empathy Course

Teammate or Opponent? A Quiz about managing stress together

Relationship Fitness Test