Disclaimer: Please note that while this article includes information relating to mental health, the team at PetsRadar are not mental health professionals and our content should not be used to replace professional medical advice.
While welcoming a new dog into your home and heart can be a joyful experience, being a pet parent isn’t always easy. Selecting which of the best puppy toys you’re going to buy to play with your fur friend and soaking up those evening cuddles on the couch can be wonderful bonding experiences, but what we don’t often talk about are the harder parts of day-to-day life with our canine companions.
Although pets can be hugely beneficial for our mental health, expert dog trainer and behavioral specialist, Amelia Steele, is keen to raise awareness of some of the downsides to owning a pup and the importance of taking care of yourself as you experience some of the more challenging moments of life with your fur friend.
“Sometimes my dogs really stress me out,” Steele shares in an honest video uploaded to her Instagram channel which you can view in its entirety below. “We’re told all the time that dogs are great for decreasing stress and if you struggle with anxiety you should get a dog because it will help. But what happens on those days where your dogs are the cause of your stress and anxiety?”
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It’s a question she’s seeking to answer with her top three tips for how you can take care of your own mental health while also taking care of your dog.
1. Make sure you take some time for yourself
“Sometimes it can feel like the whole world revolves around our dogs, so taking some time out for yourself every now and again is essential, even if it’s something as simple as hiring a babysitter so you can enjoy a meal out.”
2. Don’t be afraid to cut things short
“If a walk or a training session starts to feel particularly stressful, it’s absolutely fine to just finish it and go home. Rather than pushing through and letting your anxiety build and build, sometimes if you just stop and come back at a time when you’re feeling better, you’ll appreciate it and your dog will appreciate it.”
3. Know when to let it go
“Just like we’re not perfect, our dogs are not perfect, and dogs are going to do dog things. Sometimes we put a lot of pressure on ourselves and we put a lot of pressure on our dogs to be absolutely perfect all of the time, but sometimes they’re going to do naughty things so understand it’s not always in our control and don’t beat yourself up if your dog does dog things.
If you have any concerns about your mental health, we recommend contacting your health care provider. Alternatively, you may find the following organizations a helpful starting place for support, advice and guidance:
If you live in the United States, you can contact Mental Health America toll free on (800) 969 6642.
If you live in the United Kingdom, you can contact Mind on 0300 123 3393.
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Kathryn is a freelance writer who has been a member of the PetsRadar family since it launched in 2020. Highly experienced in her field, she's driven by a desire to provide pet parents with accurate, timely, and informative content that enables them to provide their fur friends with everything they need to thrive. Kathryn works closely with vets and trainers to ensure all articles offer the most up-to-date information across a range of pet-related fields, from insights into health and behavior issues to tips on products and training. When she’s not busy crafting the perfect sentence for her features, buying guides and news pieces, she can be found hanging out with her family (which includes one super sassy cat), drinking copious amounts of Jasmine tea and reading all the books.