Humans and animals have lived alongside one another for millennia. So, understandably, the bond we’ve created with them goes beyond the purely practical.
Our pets can influence our emotions and bring us out of slumps, restoring us to a state of happiness and contentment. But how does this interaction work, and what are the benefits beyond the basics of overall mood improvement?
Evolution Plays a Part
The first point to make is that dogs, in particular, have developed into man’s best friends over a long period. They have adapted from their wild origins to be the ideal domesticated companion.
This is largely about how dogs are better equipped to detect and interpret a whole range of human emotions and react accordingly.
Our furry friends can tune into everything from the tone of our voices to the way we hold our bodies and even our facial expressions. These abilities are innate in all pooches, and in the case of a trained ESA dog, you can teach additional responses to specific emotional scenarios.
All of this means that if your dog senses that you are depressed, anxious, angry, frustrated, or in any other heightened state, it will often do its best to intervene and remedy this situation. This is why it is comparatively straightforward to train them to take this intuition even further and use it for therapeutic purposes.
The Excuse to Stay Active is Important
Another aspect of pet ownership that can positively influence your mood is that they require care, attention, and an active lifestyle. Once again, dogs are especially appealing in this context since even the smallest, and least energetic breeds require daily walks to stay fit and healthy.
In turn, if you know that you need to walk the dog, you also have a direct motivation to get out and about rather than stay cooped up at home on the couch, scrolling endlessly through your social feeds and feeling glum about the state of the world today.
Experts agree that exercise is a useful tool in the battle against mental health issues, and being compelled to stay active because you’ve got a pet that’s reliant on you is just the ticket.
Animal Interactions Open Up Our Playful Side
Most pets like to play, and so as well as people being able to take comfort from stroking an animal or having it rest in their laps, there are also mood-boosting properties to take away from other types of interactions.
When we play fetch with dogs or use toys to entertain cats, our brains release serotonin and dopamine, both of which contribute to an improved mood and make us more relaxed.
Because pets are so uninhibited and fun-loving, this can unshackle us from our own hang-ups and let us forget ourselves for a while when playtime rolls around.
The Loneliness is Treatable through Animal Companionship
Loneliness is a little-talked-about aspect of modern life that is particularly prevalent in the older population. So it is perhaps unsurprising that people with pets are less prone to all sorts of medical side-effects and health issues associated with having a lack of companionship.
People are social creatures, and living with pets lets us get that connection we crave without dealing with the complexities of maintaining or seeking out human relationships.
Thus pets can provide a multi-pronged approach to improving your mood and making your life better, both from day to day and in the long term.