Petting My Dog Gives Me Peace
“Petting, scratching, and cuddling a dog could be as soothing to the mind and heart as deep meditation and almost as good for the soul as prayer.” Dean Koontz
Dean Koontz is an American novelist whose many of his books made The New York Times Bestseller List. His style of writing is mainly suspense thriller. His latest book is named “Devoted”. It is a story about the devotion of a mother to her son, the devotion of the son to his mother, the devotion of the son to his dog, and the dog’s devotion to the boy and his mother. This story illustrates the devotion that we have for each other within our families and the devotion that our dogs have for us.
We know for ourselves how a dog makes us feel when we are petting him and loving on him. Research has also supported the many benefits of the human-animal (particularly dog) interaction. Research studies have found that petting a dog can lower blood pressure levels as well as stress levels and mental health conditions (Kramer, Mehmood, & Suen, 2019; Homes, 2019, Fey, 2017). Studies have shown that physical interaction with a pet can reduce anxiety and fear brought on by a stressor (Fey, 2017). One study found that elderly nursing home residents who own dogs experience less confusion and tension compared to residents who don’t own a dog. Another study found that when pet owners pet their dog, they feel a sudden feeling of happiness even during one setting. The remarkable thing about this study was that the pet owners felt the effect for as long as 10hours afterwards (Homes, 2019). The benefits of petting the dog do not only reduce stress levels for you but they also help to raise dopamine and endorphin levels for the dog, too. Endorphin and dopamine are neurotransmitters within the nervous system that are both involved in the feelings of pleasure and happiness.
“Being around dogs can have a calming effect,” pet writer Maryann Mott reported for National Geographic News years ago. “Studies have shown that physiological changes occur when people touch dogs: a drop-in heart rate, lower blood pressure, and reduced stress.” (Fey, 2017)
I found this information most interesting and relevant due to the crisis that the world is experiencing now with the COVID-19 pandemic. Times are very uncertain through which can bring about stress, anxiety, and depression as we are isolated within our homes. Personally, Dino helps to calm me down when I have feelings of anxiety. Petting him and stroking his belly, I don’t know, soothes me in an unexplainable way. As referenced above in Dean Kootz’s quote, I have also found peace and stress relief with prayer and my meditation app, Soultime. Among the many, many benefits of owning a dog(s), that bond that we have developed with them gives us emotional support, especially during times of crisis.
The greatest benefit of dog petting as we go through the Corona Virus pandemic is the reduction of stress. Petting our dogs helps to soothe our souls, especially now in the days of isolation and social distancing. Isolation and social distancing are far too familiar terms in our world today, terms that are not favorable to our wellbeing.
Some coping tips that I use while at home during this time of COVID-19:
- As a person of faith, I pray a lot! I find great comfort in knowing that God is with us and I can learn about God’s love and sovereignty through the scriptures.
- When I am feeling particularly anxious, I can curl up with my dog and rub on him, relieving stress, making both of us feel loved and at peace.
- I am taking this time to practice gratitude in the greatest way. We have so much to be thankful for, even if we have to intentionally look for those blessings. There is always someone worse off.
- I am also taking this time to think about what I really want for my life and future. I am taking steps forward in being the best me.
- I am being intentional about staying positive, trying my best not to give into negative thoughts.
Fey, E. (2017). Animals–the Emotional and Biological Effect on humans: It’s more than just caring.
HOMES, C. (2019). CREAT RE. Community Practitioner, 42, 42.
Kramer, C. K., Mehmood, S., & Suen, R. S. (2019). Dog ownership and survival: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, 12(10), e005554.