How dogs can make a difference to your mental health
It is estimated that approximately one in four people in the UK will suffer a mental health problem at some point each year. And dogs really can make all the difference – their kindness and companionship getting their owners through the darkest of days.
Man’s best friend
Helping to give you a purpose
Dogs can sometimes be our only reason to get up in the morning. They give us a purpose – they rely on us for food, exercise and love. And just doing these small things and being needed by our four-legged friend can be a lifeline when getting through each day is hard. They get us up and out, and provide our days with structure - 37% of people surveyed by Blue Cross say their pets help them with their daily lives.
Putting one foot in front of each other, getting out of bed, or leaving the house can be a big step, and having a dog by your side each day, encouraging and relying on you, can play a huge part in this.
Getting you outside and exercising
In addition to helping to alleviate stress, anxiety, depression and loneliness, there are all the benefits that come from regularly exercising your dog. Daily walks outdoors boost physical and emotional wellbeing, and there are recognised benefits for our mental health of being outside in green space.
Going for a dog walk also increases social interaction - people talk to you and often a dog provides common ground, and this might be the only social contact an isolated person may have that day. Dogs can help with confidence too, by being by your side during these social interactions, which can be a source of anxiety for some.
Mental Health Awareness Week
Our resources for Mental Health Awareness Week
For those who are able to go outside, we have brought together key information to help you enjoy the outdoors with your four-legged friend, whether it’s in the countryside, along the beach, or in public parks.
For more information, visit our paw-by-paw post-lockdown guide.
For those who are unable to go out, we have produced a list of indoor games to play with your dog.
For more information, visit our guide to indoor games.