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All dog owners will be aware of the feel-good factor of owning a dog. Dogs provide comfort, companionship, exercise and loyalty to their owners.

However, what is the science and research behind the traits we are all aware of and recognise, and help with anxiety in people?

Multiple studies have particularly shown that when bonding with your dog, oxytocin, otherwise known as the “love hormone” release is stimulated by eye contact or petting, which works both ways – Human to Dog, Dog to Human.

A 2017 study discovered that dogs often raise their eyebrows to give the “puppy eyes” and make facial expressions, when they know humans are looking. This enhances the bonding experience between dog and owner, creating feelings of love and protection, which is replicated between parents and their children.

This is assisted by dogs’ natural empathy towards humans, formed over many years from the original domestication of wild wolves, into the dogs we know today. Dogs sense emotions and feelings, which then effect their own behaviour, they are aware of happiness and joy, sadness and depression. They will then either share in with the fun during those feel-good times, or express comfort and empathy during the bad times.

The many benefits of interacting and owning a dog, allow a person with anxiety, the company of a companion, who not only provides empathy but also has the natural ability to sense human feeling, added to the benefit of healthy exercise, which in humans release endorphins, which is known to alleviate stress and anxiety.

Whilst dog ownership isn’t a “magic bullet” cure for anxiety, it certainly helps in many ways. A relationship between human and dog, will only strengthen over time as a dog becomes a member of the family, sharing many of the day-to-day family experiences, struggles, good and bad times, but will always be a constant companion, never questioning, but always truly loyal, a huge help for anyone with anxiety issues.

Suggested Dog Breeds for Emotional Support –

  • Labrador
  • Yorkshire Terrier
  • Corgi
  • Golden Retriever
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
  • Poodle
  • Greyhound
  • Pug
  • Beagle

When deciding which dog would be most suitable for your specific situation and needs, please consider all options. Dog size, exercise requirements, size of family home, and if there are any financial constraints.

It is also worth looking to adopt, which is a very worthwhile and fulfilling experience.

This article has been written by Hattie & George, a British manufacturer of bespoke tweed collars, leads & bowties.

Image by Pixabay