one-dog-as-best-medium-counter-stressGuest article

A dog as the best remedy against stress?

If you believe the superficial picture of living together with dogit often seems that a dog is the best remedy for stress. With dog everything is always carefree and easyPeace, joy, pancakes and all that. Pictures of endless green landscapes open up before the mind's eye, dog and owner side by side, the sun is shining.

Pictures of a happy sleeping dog or of laughing children playing with the dog. You know what I mean. Especially on Instagram this impression is easily created.

The reality of everyday life is people screaming their hearts out in the forest because Bello prefers to chase a deer instead of obeying. Endless deafening barkingwhich can still be heard on the streets, tests the nerves. A cheeky dog that steals food from the child's hand causes a medium family disaster.

Of course these are exaggerated examples for both sides of the coin. However, it is important not to lose sight of the fact that - as with everything in life - it is there are always two sides.

I myself grew up with dogs and have Animal psychology with focus on dogs studied. So my picture of living together with dogs was not completely unrealistic. Nevertheless, my first completely own dog brought me a little bit rudely down to earth. In my original opinion, 90% of problems could be solved by an optimal education of the dog. I was allowed to revise this view very soon when my 12 weeks old whirlwind moved in.

Stress killer or stress trigger?

In spite of the best knowledge and conscience, very well thought-out education and a library of the best dog education guides, I was soon allowed to find out that there are, besides the wonderful, idyllic, harmonious "my dog is my best friend" days, just as negative, exhausting, nerve-racking days. Even the best education in the world does not protect against puberty of the dogFor example, before chasing after a rabbit that suddenly hobbles over the path, before eating excrement piles or before visits to the vet.

Yeah, right, every beloved quadruped can also become ill at times and nobody tells you how stressful a vet bill can be. Or how much it wears you down to see your beloved four-legged friend suffering from an injury or illness. A dog is and remains a dog, no matter how much it is humanised. And this behaves according to his instincts and is always looking to act for his own benefit. He doesn't do it to annoy us, but simply because he's an animal.

Altruistic dogs do not exist. No dog in the world will think, "For the sake of my mistress, I'm not going to run through this mud puddle." Or "Well, that smells great on the grill, but I know this is for my family's dinner and I'm getting dog food later, so I'll wait my turn." Or "today I'm not running after this rabbit, last time I was on the prowl for two hours and my master was so upset afterwards".

dog energy level

It is therefore utopian to assume that a dog is a stress killer. There will probably be just as many moments in which the dog is the stress trigger. To clear up any misunderstandings: this text is not meant to demonize living with a dog. I myself can't imagine life without a dog anymore.

Of course, with regard to the stress potential of the dog it also always depends on what kind of dog you have and which Energy level this one has. Of course there are also sluggish dogs, which are anything but lively, dogs which are not greedy, dogs without hunting instinct, etc. I would not like to deny that.

Personal development at the side of a dog

I am writing here about my personal reality of everyday life with dog and about what I see in other dog owners. So far I have never met a dog owner, no matter how much he or she is in love, who could honestly claim that his or her dog has never upset him or her. But even from these, at first sight difficult situations, one can learn a lot.

My dog has taught me through his escapades to become more relaxed. I now know that it happens from time to time that situations occur which I cannot control. That generally in life not all controllable is - and should not be. I know that I cannot foresee everything and that I cannot always do everything right and that I am not a bad dog mum or a bad person because of that.

It teaches me to get away from my perfectionist demands not just to myself and my dog. Meanwhile I can apply what I have learned to all situations in life. My self-confidence grows with every day. I know that I am competent enough to take care of a living being and to do the right thing even in difficult situations. I am much more indulgent with other dog owners, with myself and generally with my fellow men.

My most important learning is that my dog is my mirror. Dogs have very fine antennas for the inner processes of their humans, through their very strong sense of smell they register much more than we can imagine. A dog is busy all day reading his human and reacts accordingly.

So before I get upset about my dog, I'd rather ask myself in the meantime what I have contributed to it. A dog never lies. With the dog you learn a lot about yourself. This is often difficult to understand, but also holds enormous potential for development.

The advantages with dog

There are wonderful advantages to having a dog at your side. Providing dogs regular exercise in the fresh airLazy excuses like "bad weather" are out. About the positive effects of a walk in the forest I don't think I'll have to write it here. Besides, a walk with the dog is much more fun. With a dog you always have something to laugh about and laughter is the best medicine.

Studies show that the Stroking the dog demonstrably lowers the stress levelboth for the dog and the master/sitter. Every dog owner will probably agree that it is incredibly soothing, grounding and beautiful to pet your dog and see him enjoying it. Cuddling with the dog can create a deep bond (if the dog likes it, not every dog likes it).

dog walk

Dogs help against loneliness. On the one hand, because they give you attention and affection, but also because they help to build interpersonal relationships. With a dog you can get into conversation with other people much faster and a dog offers more than enough to talk about. Dogs help against loneliness, if you open the door of your apartment and the dog is standing there wagging wildly as if you were the greatest person in the world, you can't help but consider yourself infinitely happy to be the highlight for this creature.

Pessimistic thoughts and the resulting negative feelings often disappear as soon as you cross the threshold. Dogs even let our Serotonin level increase when we're with them. A dog is truly a Buddha on four paws. Dogs always live in the here and now, they are completely present. They do not think about yesterday or tomorrow, they struggle with self-doubt or fear of the future. They ARE simple. And they are happy.

A dog, like a child, enjoys the simplest things. Dogs are real, completely authentic and in their power. A dog would also never get the idea to put himself under pressure or to do five things at once. If you observe your dog attentively, you can take an example from him in many situations, especially regarding Mindfulnessserenity and pleasure.

Dogs need attention

On the other hand, a dog is not a cat that you can more or less leave to its own devices. Dogs need regular exerciseevery day, no matter what the weather, no matter how full and stressful the day is. Depending on the dog, 2-3 hours a day are needed to get the most out of it. The education is never completed. Of course it becomes less and more routine with age, but there is no "finished" as with us humans.

Most dogs need besides the physical workload also the mental workload. Spontaneity with a dog becomes difficult, at the latest during trips and excursions. Still not all restaurants are dog friendly, as well as hotels and other accommodation, on many beaches dogs are not allowed. Activities that are otherwise taken for granted can quickly become a stress factor without advance planning. So with a dog, much more research and planning is required.

However, if you are not naive about the human-dog relationship, willing to learn and grow, you can benefit greatly from the company of a dog.

I think most people will agree with me that the beautiful moments of living together make up for the less beautiful ones. Whether a dog helps against stress, it is important to weigh up personally and honestly in each individual case. All in all, the personal attitude is probably a decisive factor for whether the human-dog relationship is an enrichment or a burden.

This article is a guest contribution from Janine Nolde.


I have found my personal way through all the crises, obstacles, difficulties and diagnoses in my life to help myself, to heal myself and to create a happy, fulfilled life. Through mindfulness, meditation, spirituality and above all my very personal life coach, my dog Mäxi, I have managed to free myself from my traumatic past full of stress, self-doubt and illness.

Today I am grateful for my unconventional way and my courage to follow my intuition and the voice of my heart. I share my experiences and my knowledge Instagram.