Depression has manifested itself as a complex problem that greatly affects today’s society.
Improving public awareness and investment in mental health is today a growing need.
In this aspect, animal-assisted therapy is a tool to be considered and has experienced a significant increase in the last decade.
It seems that contact with animals brings benefits in relation to emotional well-being and mental health.
An excuse to go out
It has been shown that exercising favors the release of stress and produces endorphins that make us feel good.
A dog will always be willing to go out with you for a walk or exercise playing.
We are social animals. The importance of affection in our natural development is fundamental. When we look into each other’s eyes, we activate in our brain the production of hormones and neurotransmitters of happiness and love. oxytocin and serotonin form this happy chemistry. Our dogs, just like people, activate this chemical when we look at them and pet them. Done, it makes us feel good.
The character of a dog is conditioned by individual experiences and learning more than by the breed or genes that it carries in its DNA.
The selection must be made individually, taking into account their sensitivity and health, but above all their training. A well socialized and trained dog, regardless of breed, color, or size, can make an excellent companion and therapist.
When a certain external aspect is selected, it is the consequence of a matter of perception, not capacity.
For example, there are those who think that black dogs are more imposing than lighter colored dogs and therefore users or patients could be frightened. On the other hand, there are therapists and technicians who use black and mestizo dogs in their treatments, with enormous success.
Contribution of happiness and calm
Interaction with both own and foreign dogs contributes in the same way to the segregation of serotonin and the reduction of stress in people. No differences have been observed in this aspect if the dog with which the interaction takes place belongs to the family or is simply a visiting dog.
On an affective level, interacting with a dog of our own with whom we have a bond has been more beneficial than interacting with an unknown dog. Our body is filled with love and oxytocin when the affective exchange is with our family dog and not with a foreign dog.
Dogs don’t behave the way we want when they get home. Their education requires effort and training on our part.
The lack of investment of time, effort and money in the education of our dogs has led to behavioral problems being the first reason for animal abandonment in Spain today.
Dogs can be excellent companions, but also headaches and problems.
The relationship with your dog can be a beautiful symbiosis or a case of parasitism. The latter occurs when the dog becomes a burden to the person. This burden can be financial or emotional.
Keeping a dog is an average of between 800-1000 euros per year. In addition, a dog with behavioral problems can lead to greater social isolation from the person who cares for it. It will be difficult to socialize with a dog that is not social. Likewise, if my dog does not stay alone at home, it can cause added stress that we did not imagine when we decided to incorporate a dog into the family.
In addition to dogs, the purring of cats and their soft fur have been shown to be very beneficial to people.
Birds also bring us benefits when we take care of them.
- Science has shown that interactions with animals actively improve mood and reduce stress levels in people.
- Dogs, like cats, and even birds, are beneficial for combating depression.
It is also useful to interact with a dog can be done through:
- Specific and individual programs , where the patient interacts with a properly trained and good-natured working dog.
- Through a dog of their own incorporated into the family : in which case, we must consider the risks in the frustration of our expectations and try to minimize them with time and training.
Julius, H. et al. 2012. Attachment to pets: An integrative view of human-animal relationships with implications for therapeutic practice. Hogrefe Publishing.