5 Ways Your German Shepherd Can Help Your Mental Health

5 Ways Your German Shepherd Can Help Your Mental Health

Dogs and humans have been sharing a special bond since the first domestication took place sometime between 14,000 and 29,000 years ago in northern Eurasia.

While there is some debate about when and how that may have happened, there is no debate that humans love their furry canine companions so much they are willing to share their lives with their beloved pets.

And, the feeling is mutual. German shepherds are devoted to their owners and have a deep connection to their owners. The unconditional love they show is something very special. In fact, many owners consider their dog their best friend.

But does this special relationship go beyond mutual love and friendship?

It does. Research suggests that the relationship between dogs and their owners goes much deeper than just showing affection and sharing daily life. Apparently, this connection is also good for mental health.

It is commonly accepted that dogs are considered part of the family and that people are very attached to their pets. However, the human-dog bond is often viewed as a way to improve the physical and mental health of people in many ways.

Here are 5 ways dogs can improve the mental health of their owners:

1. Dogs Can Help Reduce Stress

When you pet a friendly dog, they happily return the affection. They enjoy human contact and the attention they receive. But the dogs are not the only creatures enjoying these special moments.

Humans also benefit from petting dogs. According to researchers Alan Beck of Purdue University and Alan Katcher of the University of Pennsylvania, when you pet a friendly or familiar dog, the action reduces stress in people.

When the researchers measured the changes that took place as a person stroked a dog, their subjects experienced lowered blood pressure, slower heart rates, reduced muscle tension, and their breathing became more regular. Further, 30 years later, the Journal of Psychosomatic Medicine not only confirmed those findings, they measured reduced amounts of stress related hormones in the body.

2. Dogs Can Help Reduce Anxiety

Loving a dog also reduces anxiety. It is common knowledge that many people have an emotional support animal to reduce anxiety and promote feelings of well-being. Many dog owners agree that having their dog nearby provides them with a level of comfort they can’t get anywhere else.

Anxiety reduction is not limited to adults, either. Children also benefit. According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children who have a dog at home have a decreased risk of anxiety.

According to heart.org, pets also help people manage their anxiety. When people struggle with feelings of being anxious, their dog provides them with the companionship and support they need to help reduce the symptoms.

3. Dogs May Help People Cope with Symptoms from Mental and Physical Illness

Physical and mental health problems can affect health negatively. Studies suggest that loving a dog can help people cope with illness and contributes to increased feelings of happiness and reduced depression.

According to a study published in BMC Psychiatry, “By providing unconditional positive regard, pets promoted emotional stability through the regulation of feelings, management of stress and helping people to cope with difficult life events.

For people living alone, pets provided a source of ‘connectedness’, reassurance, and normalcy,” which gives people purpose and helps them cope when life seems out of control.

4. Dogs May Help Reduce Pain

There is no doubt that pain can affect mental health and reduce quality of life. Pain often causes people to skip out of their usual activities, contributes to isolation, and sometimes sends them to the emergency room.

However, if there is a bright side to this terrible problem, a study shows that dogs can help reduce pain. The study published by PLOS.org reported that patients who got to visit with a therapy dog in the emergency room experienced a reduction in pain.

And, in addition to pain reduction, the patients also experienced reduced anxiety, depression, and had increased feelings of well-being when they were allowed to visit with a therapy dog for 10 minutes.

5. Dogs Can Help People Cope With PTSD

Post-traumatic stress syndrome is often associated with the military but anyone can experience it. PTSD can occur after a traumatic event and most people have been through some sort of trauma in their lives.

According to the Veterans Administration, 6 out of 10 men and 5 out of 10 women will experience at least one traumatic event. Trauma can happen when witnessing something traumatic or having it happen personally, such as an accident, illness, assault, combat, disaster, injury, a death, and more.

PTSD can cause significant problems for people but studies show that a dog can help people cope with the aftermath. A study published by The American Psychological Association indicated that people suffering from PTSD had decreased depression, improved their quality of life, and improved their social and work functioning when they had a dog, rather than going through treatment alone.

According to Jeremy Barron, M.D., medical director of the Beacham Center for Geriatric Medicine at Johns Hopkins, “84 percent of post-traumatic stress disorder patients paired with a service dog reported a significant reduction in symptoms, and 40 percent were able to decrease their medications, reported a recent survey.”

Dogs and people have been sharing a special relationship for hundreds of years. But now more than ever, there is proof that dogs are not only our best friends, they improve the quality of our lives in many ways.

The meaningful relationship with our dogs makes us happier, provides comfort, reduces stress, and decreases anxiety. Loving a dog can make life easier to deal with and gives us plenty to smile about. We hope you enjoyed this article. As always, please feel free to share with your friends.

You may also like: 15 Reasons Why You Need A German Shepherd, If You're Looking For Love And Loyalty

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