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What You Need to Know About the Mental Health of Your Dog

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There are many benefits for you when you own a dog. There is nothing better than coming home to an excited dog who is extremely happy to see you, have a dog you can take out for nice long walks and enjoy their company every day. Dogs are extremely caring, lovable, and loyal. They are completely selfless and obsess over their owners and do not ask for anything in return. But did you know they also have mental health and wellbeing needs that have to be met? It is important that when you are, or are thinking of becoming a dog owner, you consider your dog's mental health. When you do, you will be able to give them a happy life and increase your dog's lifespan

What does caring for the mental health of your dog mean?

When you take on a dog, you are not only taking care of their physical well-being, but you need to consider their mental health as well. Many people neglect to think about this and see dogs as separate entities from humans. Of course, they are different. But they still have cognitive abilities and are very intelligent and capable animals. Dogs also possess the part of the brain that is responsible for emotions, very similar to the ones in human brains. This means that your beloved dog can experience and suffer from similar emotions and feelings, including mental health disorders such as stress, depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Many humans will just think of themselves, which is important to do so. But when you take on the commitment and responsibility of a dog, you have to also take care of them. 

What are the benefits of caring for your dog's mental health?

There are many benefits to taking action on looking after your dog's mental health. You shouldn’t just sit around and hope for the best. Just like you should do with yourself, you should make a plan of action and follow through with it. When you look after your dog's mental health, you will find that they will:

  • Be very happy every day

  • Experience less stress and reduce the risk of developing or exacerbating existing mental health disorders

  • Experience fewer medical issues

  • Be more fun and lovable towards you

  • Eat their food and drink their water

  • Play well with other dogs and people

  • Live longer

How to look after your dog's mental health

Learn about your dog 

The first thing you should do to get started with looking after your dog's mental health is to learn about your dog by doing research . All dog breeds are going to have different needs and personalities, so you must know what they need and want for a happy life. Some dogs require a lot more stimulation and exercise while others like to spend time at home with their owners. You will also need to know what nutritional needs your dog has , what kind of fun they like to have, and much more. You should also speak to other owners, a specialist and also spend time experimenting with your pet. Try different things and see for yourself what they enjoy and what they don’t.

Learn the typical signs of mental health decline in dogs 

Just like in humans, there are some common signs that if you are aware of, you can use to spot early onset of mental health struggles in your dog so you can address them accordingly. You should also know more about your specific dog's breed and their mental health needs. To get you started, here are some common signs to know about:

  • Lack of interest in food, water, people, dogs, and usual activities

  • Irritable or aggressive

  • Not sleeping

  • Tired and lethargic

  • Anti-social behaviour

  • Shaking or barking more than usual

You must be aware of your dog's mental health and need to be a responsible dog owner. If you find your dog is experiencing any of these, you should speak to your vet first to ensure there are no other serious conditions they are experiencing.

Provide safety and comfort 

Safety and comfort is a huge factor when it comes to improving your dog's mental health. Dogs feel emotions and can identify when a place is safe and comfortable. As their owner, it is up to you to ensure that you make your home a safe place for them to be. Safety will include physical safety, such as a place to roam free in without any risk of harm from things like hazards, broken items, clutter, toxins, etc. But it also means being a safe person and creating a safe environment, for example, with a lack of abuse or neglect. You need to know how to treat your dog and give them the love, care, and attention they need. Comfort will also stem from the same things, but also include physical items such as a bed, blankets, toys, and other things that may bring your dog joy and fulfillment.

Be a good role model 

Not in the same way you would if you had a child, as a dog cannot mimic the same human behaviors. But you must consider your mood, thoughts, feelings, attitude, and actions in front of your dog. If you are not okay and you are stressed, your dog is going to sense that and react accordingly. If you are not very nice towards your dog, then you will make them unhappy and that can lead to antisocial behavior and other issues. If you are looking after yourself and treating yourself, your life, and your dogs with care and love, then your dogs are going to lead a much better and positive life.

Getting a dog is a very big commitment and not one that everyone takes seriously. Not only do they cost a lot of money and need walking every day, but they also require a lot of care, love, and attention to thrive. Make sure you follow these top tips, and help improve your dog's mental health