Saturday, October 29, 2016

Five Ways Your Pup Can Help Reduce Anxiety

We all know by now how much I simply adore our little pup, Leonard. On November 1st, he will be one years old. Besides taking him to his first annual physical at the vet today and gathering little prizes and gifts for him, I've been thinking about all the ways Lenny has helped Scott and I reduce our stress these past 9 months. (except for vet bills, we'll leave finances out of this!)

While I know there are countless ways our fuzzy friends are like superheroes when it comes to managing stress and reducing anxiety; I've included just five of the top ways they do so.


Dogs can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine (those lovely things that help us relax and calm down). Just playing with Leonard by taking him to dog beach, throwing his ball or teaching him tricks helps bring down my anxiety level. Lenny lives in the moment and often anxiety resides in the past or future so staying present to play with a pup is really helpful.


Dogs are little guards especially at night. When Scott would leave on work trips when we first got married I would dread the nights of sleeping alone. I would set up sleep-overs and buy night lights and deadbolt the door 10x but nothing has helped the way having little Lenny curled up next to me does. If I get nervous and wake from a nightmare in the middle of the night, I just reach over and hold Lenny's paw and immediately feel my nervous system calming down.


We know that the sun offers vitamin D and that vitamin D helps regulate our mood. Leonard needs multiple walks a day, therefore Scott and I get a lot of time in the sun these days. Movement, and vitamin D all are linked to reducing cortisol and anxiety levels. Thanks Lenny!


As I mentioned before dogs help you remain in the present. If someone is experiencing extreme panic, flashbacks or even PTSD just reaching out and petting a puppy can be very grounding. It reminds you of what is going on right now. Trauma informed care includes learning to use our sense (what we see, feel, touch, smell) to help us stay in the moment. Holding a little pup and hearing their heart beat against our own reminds us that we are living in the present, not the past or future.


Laughter is the best medicine. Laughter increases our oxygen (giving us relaxed muscles) and reduces cortisol levels (the stress hormone). So it isn't any surprise that watching our pets and dogs' silly antics can really calm us down. Even Leonard does something really "naughty" I sometimes have to suppress my laughter so he knows I'm serious. (like last night when he ate off the stem of pumpkin #yummy?). Sometimes Lenny jumps under the bed with only his tail sticking out. Sometimes he chases his tail. Sometimes he runs at full tilt in a tight circle with his tongue hanging out and his eyes looking wild. Sometimes he growls at Halloween decorations in neighbor's yards. If you don't have a dog, watch this video and it will give you a good laugh.

What about you? How do pets help reduce your stress?


  1. Wonderful!! Such a happy, fabulous post Heather, I LOVE this! It's made me smile and I so needed a smile today angel thank you xxx As you know I completely agree, our furbaby Jade is the centre of our home and she so knows it too bless her :) Furbabies give us their whole heart and soul, they offer devotion seldom found in humans and all they ask for in return is a little food, somewhere to nap, kind words & maybe a hug or two. It's the best deal mankind has ever made is to walk alongside our furbabies through life. This is such a wonderful post as always Heather, it's such a joy to see photos of Lenny too, too cute!! Please give him a hug for me x Thank you for sharing, I'm off to tweet. Have a fab weekend dear wee friend, huggles xxx