Mental health and our dogs

Do dogs help with mental health?
Mental health awareness #worldmentalhealthday

Lockdown has been has been isolating, a complete change of ‘norm’ and challenging to say the least but something furry with 4 legs seems to have kept some of us going but not just during lockdown

It seems dogs have a much bigger role to play when it comes to mental health, often offering us comfort and silent support.

I asked in my Facebook community Dachshund training and behaviour owners community The dogs code, how their mental health has been affected by their dogs.

I’m writing as I want to help, having suffered short bursts of poor mental health over the years.

I was young and physically healthy. My dog and world Chipolata joined our family and gave me a focus all be it a difficult time with a tiny puppy but it was very evident she understood me, listened to everything without judgement, snuggled me and made me exercise and have fun – she truly continues to make me smile daily.

From our community we have some beautiful stories of how dachshunds have stepped up and really changed lives.

I got my dapple puppy in 2001 (he died in 2018) when my dad was facing serious health problems and my husband was dealing with some health issues as well. My Dobby was so helpful to my mental health and he brought me such joy over the years because he just would know when I needed him. I tried to not have another dog when he passed and found that I was getting depressed at not having that companionship that a little dog gives- I lasted 10 months and now have Dewey. He adds a bit of stress as he has a lot of separation anxiety and I haven’t had places to go so I do worry I won’t be able to leave him. Also- 18 years between puppies makes you forget a lot of the puppy things ????
Overall he is good for my mental wellness

Katie! I have a story about a little Shitzte we named Buddy. Met him the very first time. I heard barking outside. Went to the door to see who my husband was talking to. When I opened the door this little black and white dog ran in the house. He circled the house 3 times. I finally got him called outside thinking he would go home. That afternoon I went to the store. He was still in the yard. When I came home from shopping. My husband opened the door for me. That little dog ran inside and hid behind the sofa. He would not come out. He spend the night in the house scratching all night long. So next morning I got him out and took him to the Vet. He had flea infestation, eye and ear infection. Low weight. Sick little dog. I paid 138.08 cents and told the Vet if anybody was looking for him I was taking him home. They could pay me what I paid and they could have him back. No chip and no way to tell who he belonged to.  So we kept him and took care of him. He was the most expensive dog we ever took care of. He needed baths and trims every 6 to 8 weeks. Always needed eye med. and ear medicine. But he was a blessing and comfort to me during the time my husband fell and broke his hip and needed more help than I could give him at home. This little dog was always home to welcome me and to play a game. Buddy got sick himself. He had cancer. So gave him medicine twice a day. But he was such a sweet little boy. He never met a stranger and thought everyone came out to see him on our walks. He was a lot of company. Buddy crossed Rainbow bridge in February. I just didn’t think I ever wanted another dog. I had 4 doxie who lived to 18 and 22 years. They were all our babies.  Well it was so lonely without a puppy. I decided I wanted another doxie. My daughter and husband brought me this 8 week old puppy. Named him Rosko the Black and Tan doxie. He is a handful. But I sure do love him. I feel That Buddy was a blessing sent when we needed comfort after our two doxies that lived 18 and22 years passed. What a comfort and blessing dogs give. Unconditional ❤️ love. Rosko is a active puppy. I forgot how much attention they need.

I’ve had Bobby almost 6 weeks now and he has helped my mental health massively and I’ve been suffering badly with it lately. I’m housebound 95% of the time due my health issues. But now I have to get out to take him for a walk etc. He also makes me laugh every single day his personality is so comical. I truly believe I’d be  worse than I am now if it wasn’t for his company every day. He is also having a positive affect on my children who have autism, since we’ve had Bobby we’ve had far less meltdowns and everyone has been so much happier. We all love him to bits. Pic of him in his fave sleeping spot ???????????? xx

It’s not just adults
I have 2 teenage girls…. Emotions and hormones flying around all over this house!! ???? Whenever they’ve had a particularly bad day they ask if they can have the dogs in their room in the evening. It’s amazing how much happier they are after snuggles with these 2 ????

I grew up with dogs and they’ve always had a huge positive impact on my mental health. I moved out of home a few years ago and really missed my dogs, but thought I couldn’t have one of my own because I suffer from psychotic depression. During lockdown, I had a severe episode during which I was hearing voices, seeing birds flying indoors and I believed the government were trying to poison me and that the water in my flat was poisonous. As a result, I stopped drinking and stopped taking all of my medication. Unsurprisingly, I ended up in hospital. When I was discharged, the psychiatrist told me that she thought I should get a dog to keep me on the right track. I decided that if somebody who had seen me at my worse thought I could manage a dog then I probably could, so I started looking at breeds. I decided to follow in my great aunt Rosemary’s footsteps and adopt a mini dachshund. As soon as I saw Dotty I knew she was the perfect sausage! She’s a cheeky monkey and has her naughty moments but she’s changed my life forever: I have a reason to get up every morning and a routine I have to follow, which is hugely helpful for managing depression. I’ve also gone 3 months without a panic attack which is the longest stretch of time in over 10 years. I can’t imagine life without her!

I got a ‘lockdown puppy’ as referred to in this current situation but it was something I had wanted to do for two years.  Ava Mae is now coming up 5 months and has spent half her life with me.  I am now looking at spending another 6 months working from home, having spent 6 months working from home.  Living alone, I didn’t realise how alone I was feeling until Ava Mae arrived.  My week is busy with work and juggling her needs but I wouldn’t change anything.  Days when I would have sat  and cry, I now look at her face or have some playtime with her and it puts life back into perspective and I can carry on.  I do have concerns with separation anxiety for the both of us when I eventually have to return to some days in the office but everyday I have had her has incredibly helped me in keeping balanced and focussed.

George has helped me so much with my mental health. I was diagnosed with PTSD almost two years ago and if it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have left the house some days or made friends who helped me through it (the sausage community are amazing). He’s also great at knowing when I’m upset and always licks away my tears. Dogs are amazing. ❤️

If I hadn’t had my sausages over the past 8 years I would not have coped to handle my mental health, emotional and mental health as my mum began and progressed to advanced Dementia.  The dogs also have had their part to play with my mum. When she got so stressed and angry the dogs would hop up with her and encourage cuddles which always calmed her down ❤️. The dogs are the common grounding and calming effect for us both.

There’s something to be said for having a dog in your life, being petted helps with calming us and reducing our stress. Exercise and generally moving when playing but most of all focus.

The main thing to remember is it’s ok to not be ok we are not robots, we may have dips and take steps backward or live with many different feelings.

Looking after yourself is a priority and it starts with a ‘can do’ mindset approach, changing your environment, some may need medication some may need hospital stays but normal is what is normal to you so do not compare everyone is individual.

If you need help, reach out, get professional help but most of all don’t suffer in silence.

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