October 10th is World Dog Day. What dog owners know from their own experience has also been scientifically confirmed in many cases: Dogs are good for everyone! And those who have a dog will not be surprised by the results of numerous studies: dog owners are not only physically fitter and healthier – provided they also take their dog out regularly themselves – they also do something for their mental health with the dog.
“Patting a dog increases the release of the hormone oxytocin,” says psychologist Dr. Andrea Beetz. “Science currently assumes that this hormone promotes social contacts, trust, attachment, regeneration, and well-being, as well as reducing anxiety, depression, and stress.”
A few examples illustrate how dogs support our salvation: Because dogs promote interpersonal contact, they can prevent psychological problems that arise from loneliness and isolation.
The four-legged friends can also help to cope with psychological problems. As therapy dogs, they can break the ice between psychotherapist and patient, promote trust in human therapists and thus accelerate the success of therapy. In addition, physical contact with dogs reduces stress hormones and anxiety for the patient and creates a feeling of security. This is significant because the brain is not capable of learning when it comes to anxiety and stress. Trauma and problems can only be researched and worked on in detail if the patient feels safe.
Visiting services with dogs in hospitals, rehabilitation clinics, and nursing homes help patients to have more zest for life. The dogs activate and motivate to exercise and contact other people.
If you consider the numerous positive effects that dogs have on the human psyche, it is logical that October 10th is not only World Dog Day but also Mental Health Day.
In addition, dogs do valuable work for us humans in numerous other areas: As guide dogs or assistance dogs, they help people with disabilities to cope with their everyday lives. They are also used as search dogs, guard dogs, customs dogs, and diabetic or epilepsy alert dogs. And these are just a few examples. Reasons enough to dedicate a special day to “man’s best friend”.