7 ways your dog can help you combat stress

As the pace of life intensifies, making time for yourself becomes more important than ever. Here’s where Fido can help ease your stress.

It’s an established fact that having a dog can lower stress, reduce depression, and even help us live longer. Did you know your dog can also teach you how to achieve inner peace, even on the most hectic days? Here are seven ways you can learn from his example.

1. Watch how your dog breathes when he’s at rest.

Most of us, especially when anxious and stressed, breathe shallowly and from the chest. Dogs breathe deeply and slowly from the abdomen. Observe your dog’s breathing, then try to imitate it. After a few minutes of deep abdominal breathing a la Rover, you’ll soon start to feel calmer.

2. How does your dog react when you open the treat cupboard, or get out his leash for a walk?

He bursts with enthusiasm, right? Next time something special comes your way, even if it’s as simple as a phone call from a close friend or a bowl of your favorite ice cream, take a cue from your dog and enjoy it to the full.

3. Your dog doesn’t worry about the future or regret the past.

He lives solely in the present and takes each moment as it comes, whatever it may bring. This isn’t always possible for us, of course, but trying to stay anchored in the present as much as possible not only reduces anxiety and stress but also increases our ability to enjoy everyday life.

4. When your dog invites you to play, take him up on it.

Don’t just tell him to lie down because you’re too busy. Animals are highly intuitive, and often know when you need to take time out before you do. Even five minutes of fun will help relax and refresh you, so take the hint when he plunks a toy in your lap!

5. Stop to smell the flowers.

How often have you taken your dog for a walk, only to spend the whole time thinking about something else and hardly noticing what’s going on around you? Your canine companion, meanwhile, is using all his senses to fully experience and enjoy everything he encounters. Put aside your worries and enter into the experience with him – feel the breeze on your face, take in the sights and sounds of nature, and appreciate how good it feels to exercise your body.

6. Dogs adore being with their human pack.

They understand the importance of spending time with those we love. If you often find yourself putting off having lunch with a friend, or taking the kids for a hike in the woods, think again – quality time with family and friends is one of the best ways to unwind.

7. When dogs feel good, they roll, stretch, wag their tails, and open their mouths in a big grin.

We don’t have tails to wag, but we can always lie down on the floor, have a good roll, stretch our bodies, and maybe even take a quick nap. And don’t forget the grin!


Ann Brightman is Managing Editor for Animal Wellness Magazine and Integrative Veterinary Care Journal. A lifelong animal lover, she has also been a writer and editor for over 25 years. Ann is a member of the Professional Writers Association of Canada and is also a Tai Chi instructor.