Our dogs do a lot for us. They keep us company, give us something to care for, and even help keep us active and fit. But what many people may not know is dogs can actually make us healthier and help us live longer. One of the ways they do this is by reducing our level of stress. For me, playtime with my dogs is a great stress reliever that I look forward to each and every day.
It is a well-accepted medical fact that exercise helps reduce a person's stress. For me, playing with my dogs provides us both with the exercise we need to be healthier and fit. Even though my dogs are small, they have no problem keeping up with me on our brisk walks around the neighborhood. And our energetic games of tag show who the real athlete is! I even take my dogs in the pool to play and race each other from one end to the other.
Simple Interaction with Your Dog
The simple act of playing with your dog has been shown to reduce stress in children, the elderly, cancer patients and basically anyone for most any reason. I know that when I have had a particularly bad day, a game of tug-of-war with my pug works magic to melt my stress away. Sometimes at night when I'm stressing over my impossible to-do list for the following day, I'll improvise an impromptu game of hide-and-seek under the covers with my Yorkie. It's amazing how quickly my hectic schedule is forgotten and my stress is gone.
Just for the Fun of It
It's hard to be stressed when you're laughing and having fun. One of my favorite ways to enjoy my free time is playing with my dogs. Something as simple as throwing their favorite stuffed animal around the house for a quiet game of fetch makes me smile, laugh and appreciate how important my dogs are in my life. I even take breaks when I'm cooking or doing housework to enjoy a quick chase around the kitchen table with my dogs. It helps me relax and takes the stress out of whatever the current chore is at hand.
Regardless of your personal situation, you're likely to experience some level of stress in your life. Using your dog to help relieve that stress can be rewarding and healthy for you both. If you have stress but don't have a dog, I suggest checking out your local animal shelter. You may find that visit alone to be a great stress reliever!
"Human-Animal Bond Facts," PawsitiveInterAction.com
"Benefits of Therapy Animals & Healthy Reasons to Have a Pet," DeltaSociety.org