4 Ways to De-Stress, Courtesy of Your Dog
Looking for a new way to combat stress? Your go-to de-stress methods probably already include activities like jogging, reading books, attending retreats, or frequenting classes in yoga and meditation. But if you’re a dog owner (or just a dog lover), you might find a new way to unload by actually mimicking some of his habits.
That’s right, here are four ways to help offset stress, courtesy of your dog:
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1. Run Around in Circles When You Need to
If you’ve lived with your dog since his younger days, you probably had the pleasure of watching him experience the “zoomies.” For seemingly no reason at all, he begins running around at top speeds, sometimes in wide circles, either indoors or out. After several minutes, he simply stops, tongue out, panting, eyes asking you, “Yeah, so what?” From puppies who are diligently exercised, to adult dogs who are otherwise lethargic, most dogs engage in this zoomie behavior at least once or twice. For most, it’s just a dog burning off steam.
Picture your most stressful days: conflicting demands on your time, multiple deadlines, mind brimming with to-dos. What’s the first thing you might eliminate? For many, it’s the trip to the gym or fitness class. But according to your dog, that’s the last thing you should do. Instead, embrace it! Take a brisk walk, run madly around in circles, attend your favorite class — whatever you need to do to burn off a little steam.
2. Linger in Places that Smell Nice
Of course you love taking your furry companion on his daily walk. But who doesn’t feel a bit of frustration on those walks that are delayed by endless bouts of sniffing? After lingering over one particular blade of grass, your dog finally moves along, only to fixate over a tiny rock for the next several minutes. With his superior sense of smell, your dog’s walk is an olfactory experience like no other. As one delectable aroma after another waifs by, he carefully chooses the best ones, and stops to savor.
Aside from reacting to obviously bad smells, people spend little time thinking about aroma. But so many scents are linked to pleasure — why not seek out ways to infuse pleasant aromas throughout your day? Add a fragrant candle to your living room, make a daily stop to a bakery, or explore aromatherapy scents and essential oils, a good source of scent and health benefits.
3. Say What You Mean
If you’re comfortably reading in one room, and hear your dog bark from somewhere else in the house, you can probably quickly decipher his meaning. You know the difference between a happy bark trying to get you to come out to play, an attention-getting bark at an empty water bowl, or an excited bark at an arriving family member. You also know right away when a bark means business. A stranger ringing the doorbell, an unusual thunk from the furnace — such events are quickly met with a firm scolding of barks.
Between all the barking, yipping and howling, your dog keeps nothing bottled up inside him. He doesn’t toss and turn on his dog bed at night wondering, “Why didn’t I bark at the mail carrier?” Instead, he barked furiously, letting his feelings be known: the mail carrier was unwelcome. Are your intentions as clear when you speak?
4. Adopt Some Habits
A dog’s day is fairly predictable; he’ll wake up, eat, do his business, and exercise all in a similar order each day. In fact, maybe your dog is so predictable that he wakes you when you occasionally oversleep on a work day, or, less desirably, on a lazy Sunday morning.
According to experts, a good way to help a new dog settle in is to quickly establish a schedule. Knowing what’s going to happen each day can help keep the anxiety at bay, for both dogs and people. Getting the laundry done every Tuesday, having your daily workout or morning stretches to look forward to, or taking a few minutes to load up the dishwasher every morning are all things that can add a sense of order to your life.
If you live with a dog, you’ve got a great example of a life in balance. Observe your dog’s habits and see what lifestyle behaviors are worth mimicking!
Debbie Swanson is a freelance writer, published in numerous national and local outlets. An avid vegetarian, animal lover and reader, she loves learning about healthy eating and finding natural cures for everyday ailments.