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Hounds of love: How dogs can help you deal with anxiety
Panic attacks and anxiety disorders are running rampant nowadays. It seems every other person deals with some sort of anxiety issue. There are many ways people tried to get this under control – therapy, lifestyle changes, and medication. And of course, to each his own – some of these techniques might work better than others. However, sometimes a dog can be exactly what (who?) you need to help you push through and get better.
Whether it’s through the constant companionship they provide, or actual service dog training that allows them to assist you if you are in the middle of a panic attack, a dog will definitely be able to calm your anxiety.
Dogs calm you down by their very nature
Dogs just have a fun, healing presence about them. Just remember how you feel when you are petting or holding a dog. Your heart rate calms down, your blood pressure lowers, and you start breathing deeply, and slowly. You also well up with Oxytocin, the love hormone.
A dog will provide you with unconditional love. It will always be happy to see you, and just coming home to this furry animal will put a smile on your face. The kind of love a dog has can’t be matched, and you can be certain that it is one hundred per cent honest.
They can predict a panic attack
We all know how strong dogs senses are. Used for tracking and hunting, dogs’ sense of smell, as well as their sense of hearing, are one of their most distinguishing traits. However, this doesn’t just come useful when they have to find someone or something. A dog can also sense when you’re about to have a panic attack.
Namely, with the proper training, it can notice the signs of a panic attack and will act accordingly. It might bark and get your attention, helping you snap out of it, or it might simply snuggle up next to you and be there with you until it passes. However, even if your dog doesn’t have this type of training, it can still notice you’re getting one, and it can help you if your bond is strong enough. Namely, once your dog has known you for some time, it can detect when you are feeling “off” whether it had training or not. It will also know how to comfort you in the way you need the most.
They can alert other people
A dog might detect that something is not right, and might try to help you. However, service dogs, or even some without training, will try and find other people to help you. This can be vital if you are in a situation where a panic attack might put you or others in danger. Some service dogs are trained to actually find your phone, so you yourself can call for help.
However, they don’t necessarily have to be service dogs to help you out in this manner. You can train them. Remember to do your research, to talk to veterinarians, check out good online resources, like Totally Goldens for example, or just have a chat with professional trainers. Dogs are by their nature smart and trainable animals, and you won’t have much issue training them to help you out in situations like these.
They keep you grounded
One of the key issues of panic attacks is that you will lose focus, you will get lost inside your own head. A dog can help you stay grounded, they can help you outside of your head and into reality. One of the ways they can do this is just by being near you. Sometimes their soothing presence is enough to keep you calm, to relax you. Other times, they are trained to apply deep pressure therapy, whereby they press their bodies onto your chest to calm you down. Just holding a dog can be enough to prevent, or minimize, a panic attack.
A steady companion
An indirect way dogs help you deal with anxiety is through always being there for you. Having someone to take care of, and someone to wait for you and provide unconditional love every day, might just be what you need.
Another indirect way they help minimize anxiety is through exercise. Namely, when you take care of a dog, you need to walk it regularly, you need to play with it, to give it attention. This does two things. First of all, regular exercise lowers your anxiety, it continually improves your health and wellbeing, and helps you be better equipped to deal with them. And just taking care of another living thing will help you forget about your anxiety and your issues, it will snap you back right into reality.
No matter if you have serious anxiety issues, regular panic attacks, or just general anxiety, a dog will help soothe you, it will help calm you down. They will serve as steady companions, always there for your, ready to shower you with unconditional love and acceptance. They can keep you grounded during a panic attack, and might even inform other people of the problem, bringing them to your aid. A dog that is trained properly, or that simply knows you very well, can recognize an oncoming panic attack, and act accordingly.