The Therapeutic Value of a Dog
Dogs make us happy, but did you know that basic statement is backed up by decades of actual scientific evidence? Countless studies conducted by universities and the medical community cite finding after finding that back up the science behind the happy.
Just a few examples of the benefits we experience from dogs include:
- Reduced loneliness
- Lower blood pressure
- Improved response to stress
- Lower heart rate, slower breathing
- Decreased muscle tension
- Decreased anxiety
- Decreased levels of the stress hormone cortisol and increased levels of the calming hormone oxytocin
For these reasons, dogs are being introduced more and more in settings such as hospitals, nursing homes, counseling offices, and classrooms.
I volunteer weekly at a program for women coming out of incarceration and addiction. One of our goldendoodles usually accompanies me, and I have seen firsthand the shift in the atmosphere when I walk through the door with my furry friend. Many of these women have been through trauma from an early age and tend to be emotionally closed and untrusting. When they are able to sit beside one of our goldendoodles, they automatically relax and open up as they pet and snuggle with her. Our sweet dogs have a way of bringing out the best in these women, while offering them a non-stressful, non-judgmental environment which increases their self-confidence and decreases the self-consciousness.
Our family has certainly experienced these benefits personally with our goldendoodles. They really are like living, breathing teddy bears that are always ready and willing to give love, snuggles, a listening ear, and friendship. Whether it’s an upset child or dad coming home from a stressful day at work, just a few minutes spent petting the doodles and looking into their intuitive eyes helps bring joy and calm into the moment, and rights the ship.
These dogs happily offer free therapy to anyone who needs or wants it! It doesn’t matter to them what you’ve accomplished that day or the mistakes you’ve made. They simply want to give and receive love, and we have happily discovered in our family that once you have the love of a dog in your life, you cannot imagine ever going back.