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What Your Dog Can Teach You About Stress Management

Posted by: Dr. Granat on March 11, 2014

Dogs And Stress Management

Jay P. Granat, Ph.D.

I just got back from the dog park where my canine and I had a wonderful time.
Nate and I try to get there as much as possible.
We have a lot of friends at the dog park. Some are four legged and some are two legged. The canines have a great time there as do the dog owners.
If you’re a dog lover like I am, you know how much pleasure you can derive from your four legged pal.
He or she is always happy to see you after your hard day at the office. AndI love to lay on the floor and play with Nate when I get home.
My clothing would invariably be covered in dog hair after we romp around on the carpeting, but it does not seem to bother me or anyone else in my family.
If you’re feeling a little blue, you can always take you four legged friend out for a walk. The fresh air and the exercise are good for you both.
And if you are home and sick, man’s best friend will enjoy overseeing your recovery by staying close to you while you relax in your bed and while you heal.
Dogs protect our homes and our families and offer that unconditional love that we all enjoy. One of my dogs saved my grandmother’s life by letting us know that she was gasping for air.
I recently read about dogs that can detect cancers which modern medical technology sometimes overlooks.
Most important, our canine companions can also teach us a great deal about coping, living and managing stress. In fact, in some respects, dogs do a better job of handling life in the year 2014 than we humans do.
Much of mankind’s misery is a function of living too much in the past or too much in the future. Think about how much time we spend worrying about all the terrible
things that can happen in the future. You can spend much of your energy preparing for imagined crisis which frequently never occur. You upset yourself by asking yourself
the “What If” question.
Similarly, consider how much time and energy you waste regretting what you shouldhave done differently in the past. You are making yourself miserable by constantly
saying to yourself things like “woulda, coulda, shoulda and if only.” You cause yourself to feel guilty and inept by regretting your mistakes and by ruminating overevents you can no longer change.
Your dog does not do this to himself or herself. He or she is totally focused on the present. Canines wisely live in “here and now.”
They respond to what is right in front of them in the present. In addition, they tend very carefully to their needs for water, food, sleep and companionship. Like many
creatures that we find in nature, when one need is fulfilled, they tend to move on to the next one seamlessly.
We humans neglect our needs because we get distracted and sidetracked. Dogs tend to stay the course until they get what they desire. Retrieving a stick or a ball are excellent
examples of this ability to stay on their mission.
Humans love spending time with dogs and watching them play because it puts us in touch with nature and with the free and easy simplicity that many of us have left in our childhoods or have abandoned due to our busy work schedules.
So, the next time you get upset, take your best friend to the park, watch him or run around and consider how your pet might handle any stressful situation you find yourself in. Your pet may help you to discover a simple and wise solution to a bothersome problem.
I think I will bring my dog to work with me today as I feel that a dose of pet therapy could be quite valuable to some of my patients who are struggling with their stress.

Jay P. Granat, Ph.D. is a Psychotherapist in River Edge, NJ. He is the founder of and a licensed marriage and family therapist.

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