Live Better. Love Better. Work Better.

How Can a Dog Help with Ongoing Pandemic Anxiety?

At this point in the pandemic, I think we’ve all heard the term “Covid puppy” or even got a Covid puppy ourselves! If you didn’t take the plunge to get a dog during the pandemic, maybe you have a dog or puppy at home with you that you got prior. I, myself, fully gave into the craze and got myself a Covid puppy. She’s a 20 lb., black, mini goldendoodle named Willow and I could not be more in love with her.

Many people around the world are experiencing mental health struggles for the first time, as a result of the ongoing pandemic. Fortunately, we’ve also seen an uptick in dogs being adopted and purchased, leading me to believe people who are struggling may also have a furry friend by their side. While all dogs may not be certified therapy dogs, service dogs, or emotional support animals, their presence alone can serve just that purpose for their owners. Dogs, even puppies, have a unique instinct that alerts them as to when their owner is feeling sad, down, or anxious. While they may not know exactly what’s wrong, just their presence can make humans feel significantly better. The importance of human-animal connection has become even more clear as humans are stuck at home, sometimes quarantining, with their only interaction being with their pet. Having someone, even an animal, to talk to, cuddle with and spend time with can make a very lonely time less lonely. Dogs can be our closest friends and some of our best confidants.

“According to a recent survey done by Rover, 92% of dog owners say that their dog has played a role in positively impacting their mental health since the pandemic began.” History has proven that dogs often become humans most important, reliable and trusting friends. Hence the phrase, “man’s best friend”. 

It has been thought and argued that humans have been evolving with dogs for quite some time. This may have allowed dogs to become more attuned to people and their emotions. It may have also allowed people to become more attuned to the emotions of their dogs as well. The presence of a dog has proven time and time again to be beneficial for both mental and physical health. “In fact… humans can tend to match their own breathing and heartbeat to the resting rate of an adult dog which helps us to calm down”. While many therapists encourage clients to focus and work on their breathing, dogs have been helping us all along. Going a step further, dogs “understand our language, they know the nuances of the tone of voice we use, in many cases they’ll recognize something as small as a millimeter of movement in the human face that reflects a change in our emotion.” While remarkable, this a reason dogs are frequently used as emotional support animals or service dogs for people struggling with PTSD and patients in hospitals. They are acutely attuned to the person they’re with, offering endless love and affection. Dogs can help us stay present, in the moment and in our bodies. This is especially helpful for those struggling from PTSD. 

One of the first questions I ask my clients are about their support systems. I frequently hear about friends, family, significant others, and pets. “It turns out that social support doesn’t only have to be human beings that support us… In many cases our non-human animal relationships are really effective support systems for us.” So, if you’re looking for a sign that you should get a dog, or are looking for a way to convince your partner, roommate, or family member that a dog is a good idea, consider this it! 

If you’ve found yourself struggling with chronic stress or anxiety and are finding it difficult to destress or unwind, it may be useful to try therapy in Chicago. Contact Symmetry Counseling at 312-578-9990 to set up an appointment with one of our very skilled counselors today!

Symmetry Counseling Recent News Image 4
Recent Posts

When to Go to Couples Therapy? When You Notice These 3 Sign

Apr 30, 2024

Zoe Mittman, LSW If you’re asking the question “when to go to couples therapy”, you are in the right place. I am going to spend some time talking about 3 signs couples therapy may be a good fit for you.…

Read More

Healing the Heart – Tips for How to Get Over a Breakup

Apr 23, 2024

Breakups can be extremely difficult for both the heart and the mind. Grieving the loss of a relationship is taxing both mentally and emotionally. Whether you initiated the breakup or are the individual being broken up with, the pain and…

Read More

Surviving the Holidays: 5 Tips for Managing Holiday Stress

Apr 16, 2024

Paula Gonzalez MA, LPC, ADHD-CCSP, CIMHP                                                                                         The Christmas holiday season can be filled with “tidings of comfort and joy!.” It can also be filled with lots of invitations to holiday parties that will have you “rockin’ around the Christmas tree…

Read More