I’m sure that you’ve heard that owning a pet helps relieve stress and anxiety. The act of petting an animal is said to lower blood pressure. I asked Jeff Franklin, former K-9 officer and creator of Canine Commando, to share his knowledge of dogs, stress, and anxiety.
Pets, stress, and anxiety
Guest post from Jeff Franklin
Are you ready for a dog?
When I am asked about (how)… pets — usually dogs — help manage stress and or anxiety, my initial answers are not what people expect. With that being said, one of the first things to consider is that pets can actually add stress. They (dogs) require a lot of time for play, exercising, socializing, feeding, grooming, bathroom breaks and more.
Next, they take a fair amount of money for general care: food, well and sick visits to the veterinarian, boarding and other expenses. Also, there are usually other family members at home to consider; there are also people with allergies.
So, these things can add to the complexity of adding an animal into the home.
I like to bring these topics up first because if people haven’t considered these things, getting a pet could just add more stress to their lives.
I want dogs (pets) in a happy, healthy, forever home. So, making sure the home and family is conducive
to the animal prior to bringing one home is the best way to set yourself up for success.
Ways pets can relieve stress and anxiety
Now, on the other hand, owning a pet can be great in many ways.
First, the responsibility of having to care for an animal is rewarding for many of us. The daily interaction and affection, general care, walks, grooming, playing, exercise, feeding, teaching tricks, and the unconditional love and friendship they provide is most often stimulating and satisfying physiologically and physically. This can certainly lower stress and anxiety. The daily routine alone can help folks with stress and anxiety.
In particular, dogs are very non-judgmental and don’t really have bad days to tell us about. Even when I have arrived home from a long or stressful day, my dogs are always excited to see me (the only thing that would keep them from happily greeting me would be if they were incredibly sick). I could be gone for 10 minutes or 10 weeks and the excitement is about the same and very rewarding. No judging, no bad moods, always loving any type of affection. They don’t care about your outfit or haircut; they are just honest in their loyalty and kindness. It’s a shame us humans can’t be the same.
There are some folks that take the pets (mostly dogs) to work and or in public in general. Some of these dogs are service dogs and others are just great companions that help people that feel less stress or anxiety out in public.
There are people like myself that are just lucky to have had a career where my dogs get to go with me just about anywhere I go just for fun…for the both of us!
Jeffrey Scott Franklin
Jeffrey Scott Franklin is owner of Cobra Canine and has worked with over 10,000 pet dogs and families. He gives dogs and their owners a new leash on life and turns pets with behavioral issues into family assets. His memoir by Matthew Duffy, Franklin: The Man Behind the United States Commando Dogs, offers an exhilarating look into his fascinating career as the pioneer behind Elite Working dogs trained for the United States Military.
Franklin has been see on MSNBC and The Pet Show.