How Dogs Help Symptoms of Depression

There’s nothing worse than waking up and feeling the waves of disappointment washing over you that you’ve actually woken up. You feel the tears start to well again- but before you get too depressed you have the wet nose and two big eyes peering at you. A tail wags and you get barked at, forcing you to get out of bed.

How Dogs Help Symptoms of Depression

Dogs can help symptoms of depression because they are pack animals and instinctively form close bonds with other members of their “pack” or family. By their very nature, they will help provide emotional support to other members of their pack by being loyal and affectionate companions.

  • Physical Touch
  • Affection and Self Esteem
  • Reducing Isolation and loneliness
  • Taking Responsibility
  • Relationship Building
  • Managing Thoughts and Feelings
  • Exercise and Routine
  • Laughter

Your only reward for getting up is a kiss from your four-legged friend, but for some reason, that makes everything a little more bearable. The warmth of a body as it leans against you, relying on you for love, company, food and exercise. You know you can trust your dog, they don’t ask anything from you except the basic things.

Ever felt so depressed that you have literally wanted to curl in the corner and cry? A dog can help with that, by acting silly and/or loving. Whenever I’ve felt depressed, I’ve had one of my dogs come up to me, looking at me as though asking me if I’m okay.

My first dog was a Staffordshire bull terrier who I called Gypsi. When I got Gypsi, I formed a strong bond with her as she was my first dog that was exclusively mine. If I felt depressed, stressed or even just on the slow staircase down she’d grab her leash, walk over to me with it and rest her head on my knee. We’d then go on a long walk, where I’d end up too tired to even think. She was always there, for a cuddle or exercise.

My second dog was a West Highland White, a rescue dog. Just knowing that I had rescued a life helped my depression – I knew I was saving a dog from possibly being euthanized. I didn’t have Lola for long, and when I had to have her put to sleep, my depression welled back up again, making me really reluctant to even leave the house.

Even upon getting Angel, a Shih Tzu with a very loving nature, my depression wasn’t soothed. I needed a pal who could do what I really needed – get me out the house and walking somewhere where I could rant, rave and cry if I needed to. It took me too long, in my eyes at least, before I got myself an Alaskan malamute – and believe me I have no time to sink completely into depression.

Makita keeps me far too active; I often have to walk miles, 4-5 times a week. I get to walk away all those horrible feelings, and I have a dog that seems to be able to judge when I start to get emotionally fraught. She walks up to me, huffs at me, growls and howls until I stir myself to give her a cuddle, or who will leap on me.

She steals my covers, my pillows and even leaps on my back if she thinks I’ve walked too much. She’ll openly steal my shoes to get me to react, or even just roll about growling until I start to giggle. She’s another dog who knows that humans are complicated and we need a lot of guidance from our doggy pack-mates. We’re even known to wrap our arms around them and hug them against us! This may confuse them, but they stay where they are, keeping us calm so we can be the Alpha that they need.

One thing to remember is that just because you have depression doesn’t mean you should get a dog. You need to remember that sometimes a pet is a strain/another thing relying on you that at the wrong moment may be a stress too far for your emotions. No dog deserves to be taken in, settle down and then moved from pillar to post into new homes.


Dominique Goodall is the author of the soon to be released Echoes of Winter, book one in the Seasons of the Wolf series and a self-confessed wolf addict. She has currently been published in two anthologies by Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Publishing and is currently working on getting herself better known by sending in manuscripts for as many different anthologies as she possibly can.

As much as she loves to admit it, she never will be able to count her wolf stuff- there’s nothing left for her to be truly able to collect without her own home.

She can be friended on Facebook here:

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