3 ways dogs can improve our mental wellbeing

How do dogs benefit our mental wellbeing?

Lockdown has been tough for most of us. Whether it has been worries about the virus itself, lengthy homeschooling, not being able to spend time with loved ones, adapting to working from home, the list could go on almost endlessly; we all have our own stories on what has made the past year challenging. Sadly, we are now hearing the negative effect the pandemic has had on our mental wellbeing. With 76% of people in the UK describing themselves as stressed, and 60% of adults stating that their mental health has deteriorated during lockdown, we need to find ways to improve this situation. 

BorrowMyDoggy brown Labrador running towards camera with their tongue out
Doggy member Chester

It’s no secret that the team at BorrowMyDoggy, like millions of others throughout the country, love spending time with dogs! Whether it’s walks, cuddles or playtime, we just love being with our furry friends. The relationships we have with dogs can give us so many benefits, not least for our mental health and wellbeing, with 74% of people stating that their pet has helped their mental health throughout the pandemic.   

So the question is, how do dogs benefit our mental wellbeing?

1) LOTS OF CUDDLES - Giving our dogs a cuddle is proven to reduce stress levels, trust us, it’s a scientific fact! A study produced by Washington State University, found that petting an animal for ten minutes, reduces the amount of cortisol (stress hormone) in saliva. Dogs are so great, that interacting or even just staring into their beautiful puppy dog eyes can produce a 300% increase in oxytocin (happy hormone) levels, which can play a part in stress reduction, lowering blood pressure and providing mental health benefits. So having a lovely hug with a pooch is actively encouraged to improve our wellbeing, and chances are they will love it too!

2) WALKIES - The majority of dogs need regular walks, and for that to happen we need to go outside and take them. This gets us away from our desks, out in the fresh air and moving, motivated by our trusty canine companions. Studies show an improvement in mental wellbeing, even from a simple twenty minute walk to a local park! Being outside in nature has benefits on everything from improving moods, reducing stress, improving confidence, self-esteem and physical fitness, to showing positive effects on more severe issues including anxiety, depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder by providing natural light benefits. So whether you’re going for a short walk to the park or a big run in the countryside, you can enjoy some pawsome improvements to your mental wellbeing, and access to a dog provides that motivation to do it regularly with some cuddly company!

3) LET’S MAKE NEW FRIENDS - Going out with a dog can be a great way to physically interact with local people, which is much more fun than seeing heads and shoulders on a laptop screen.  Whether your pup is playing with a Poodle in the park, or a neighbour is looking longingly at your Lurcher, dogs can generate conversations.  With 75.2% of people saying they felt more socially isolated now more than before the pandemic, this is the time to make connections in your local community. As a borrower with BorrowMyDoggy you can make a connection that is not only a great way to make dog friends, but also life-long friendships with their owners, just like Cedric’s borrower Isabel who “always expected to make some wonderful doggy friends, but… also made some human friends through borrowing”. As for dog owners, as well as getting help with their dog, they get the added bonus of making a real-life human connection like Orca’s owner Claire from Liverpool who described BorrowMyDoggy as “a local community of friendly caring people (and has) met some lovely neighbours including someone who only lives five doors up”.  So whether as an owner or borrower, there are great opportunities to find friendships through the love of dogs.

So as we look back on this tough year in lockdown, a lot of us have concerns about our mental wellbeing and the effects of social isolation.  It is important to look after yourself and your employees, and use all the means available to improve the situation we are in. Spending time with dogs is a tangible way to improve mental wellbeing, and our barky buddies will show us wags of appreciation!

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