The Benefits of Keeping a Four-Legged Friend Around During Home Isolation | Rice Psychology
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The Benefits of Keeping a Four-Legged Friend Around During Home Isolation

Consider the following story as it relates to this week’s topic.

The first couple of weeks of my city’s stay-at-home order were rough. I’m single with no kids, so my apartment was quieter than I could have ever imagined while working from home. It got so bad that I started feeling stressed and anxious from being cooped up all day. During a call with my sister, she suggested adopting a dog. She owns one, or actually tells me that her dog owns her, and says that there’s never a dull moment in her home. I went to my local animal shelter and came home with the cutest dog! Eloise is small, scruffy, playful, cuddly, and amazingly housebroken – the perfect combination. Since then, life at home has been so different! I play with her several times each day, she keeps me company by cuddling next to me while I work, and I take her for a major walk each evening. I feel so much better now!

At Rice Psychology Group, we love having four-legged friends around. Milo and Primera are integral members of our team, helping our patients feel at home and comfortable during their sessions. Now, although we’re treating our patients remotely due to COVID-19, Milo and Primera still show up for sessions and have been making some extra appearances on our Facebook and Instagram videos as well!

Having your own furry, winged, or aquatic friend around the house can make home isolation easier to bear. In fact, according to a recent Wired.com article, animal shelters are seeing a major surge in adoptions due to so many self-isolating Americans wanting companionship at home!

Belly Rubs and Relaxation!

In a previous blog, we discussed some of the most effective (yet unconventional) things you can do to relieve stress. One of them involved spending time with your pet. By simply cuddling your pet, taking him/her for a walk, or spending a few minutes playing fetch in the yard, you can legitimately boost your mood!

Since so many of us are spending our days isolated at home due to COVID-19, emotional issues such as feeling stressed, anxious, and even depressed are showing up. As physical distancing wears on, some of us are struggling to remain as resilient as when this started weeks ago. But as Dr. Libby Guise of FluentWoof.com wrote, pups, for example, can help us with relaxation and can help to relieve some of our stress and anxiety. She also highlighted the following:

  • Pup Relaxation – The dopamine and serotonin boosts you get from petting your pup can do wonders in helping you stay calm.
  • Stress Reduction – In some cases, people felt more at ease with their dogs in stressful situations than they did with their spouse or close friend!
  • Less Anxiety – Anxiety can be debilitating and even life-altering, but studies have shown that interactions with furry friends can significantly reduce it.

Benefits for Your Little Ones

The wonderful benefits of having a pooch around at home can also be beneficial to your children. A Kent State University study we previously discussed asked 99 children to deliver a short speech about their life, allowing half of the kids to have their dogs in the room as they spoke.

The research also found that the children with their dog present looked happy in the situation, while the others were visibly stressed. My doctoral research (way back in the ‘90s) showed that having a strong relationship with a family pet also helped kids with “internalizing” problems such as anxiety and depression.

The companionship your child has with a pet could additionally prove to be beneficial in his/her relationship with you. The same Kent State study found that children who are close with their four-legged friends are more attached to their parents and best friends.

From helping with stress to better bonds with people, and even benefits with comfort in social settings, a dog’s positive effect in your child’s life is undeniable.

One Last Thing

Before you run out and adopt, please be sure that you have a plan for taking care of your potential new family member after life returns to a more normal routine with you at work and the kids at school. Maybe a cat would be a better choice than a dog at this time because they’re generally more self-sufficient.

Also, if you already have a pet but don’t feel such a strong bond with him/her, perhaps take some time to connect by playing games, using treats to stimulate interest, going on more walks, brushing and grooming if your dog needs and/or enjoys a good brushing, and just including your dog more into your life.

We’re Ready to Talk!

As you can probably tell, we love pets. They make life so much easier to bear and we know that a pet can provide the solid companionship and love you need to make your days at home much easier. If you need to chat, even if it’s just to discuss whether you or your family are truly ready to add a pet or two to your lives, then get in touch with us in Tampa today.

About Rice Psychology

Rice Psychology Group is home to a team of psychologists who work tirelessly to help adults, adolescents and children deal with their issues. Whether you’re currently dealing with depression, going through a divorce or fighting an issue you just can’t understand, know that our Tampa psychologists are here to help.

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