The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many of us to hole up indoors, which mean’s we’ve had to re-imagine our relationships with friends and family. Being in quarantine or lockdown can mean going weeks without face-to-face social interaction, leading to feelings of isolation and loneliness. The good news is that dog owners can take this time to reimagine their relationship with their furry friend and turn them into one of their closest companions for life.
Dogs have a unique ability to provide their owners with an endless amount of love and emotional support. They provide an outlet for fun and play, while bringing lots of laughter and levity into the home to keep you in the present moment rather than obsessing on an uncertain future. In fact, studies have shown that dogs provide comfort that is at least equal to that of a close friend.
Health benefits of dogs
COVID-19 has caused a sharp increase in depression and anxiety. In fact, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued warnings pertaining to dealing with mental and physical stress during this pandemic. Developing a closer relationship with your dog will not only help you physically, but will help you mentally cope with the added stress this pandemic has caused by:
• Lowering levels of depression. Pet owners of all kinds are shown to suffer less from depression.
• Lowering levels of anxiety. Playing with your dog can increase serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain, which calm and relax.
• Reducing stress. Petting your dog can reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and calm your heart rate.
• Heightening levels of companionship. As COVID-19 has forced us to spend more time holed up indoors, companion dogs provide a source of friendship and company, soothing the physical and mental strain of loneliness.
Being creative and finding new activities to do with your dog are important for a happy and emotionally content home companion. Some activities could include:
• Long Walks and Hikes. Going on a long walk with your dog, while keeping within social distancing guidelines, is a great way to not only explore new areas, but also to get exercise that might be hard to come by with gyms closed.
• Homemade Dog Treats. This allows you to not only to spend quality time with your dog, but cultivate your culinary skills, which during a pandemic of this magnitude, is not a bad idea.
• Training. Now that you’re around the house more, you have ample time to train and improve your dog’s behavior. This not only provides mental stimulation for your dog, but the benefits of this will last well after the pandemic is over.
Be a best friend to your dog
Remember that with any relationship you get in what you put out. Dogs are no different in that respect; so be sure to respect and observe your dog’s needs. In turn, they will be more willing to make you their best friend.
Written by: Kai Lundgren and Robert Segal M.A.. Source: Helpguide.org