PetsPyjamas recently caught up with top dog behaviourist Graeme Hall, aka ‘The Dogfather’ who featured in Channel 5’s ‘Dogs Behaving (Very) Badly’. Graeme shared some invaluable insights into how spending time with our dogs can improve our wellbeing, keep us happy and bring us some much-needed positivity.
Dogs provide companionship
Graeme is quick to emphasise the importance of dogs companionship with humans:
“As companion animals by nature, our dogs simply love to be around us. It’s what makes them man’s best friend! Unfortunately, a lot of us will find ourselves on our own right now, and even if we’re not physically alone, we may tend to feel lonely.”
“Now, more than ever, companionship is crucial to our wellbeing, and even if we’re not lucky enough to have that in human form, a bit of doggie love will still do us the world of good!” says Graeme. “Dogs are the friends we can always rely on to cheer us up and be there for us…”
So, in a time where we all need love and company, our dogs are our knights in shining fur and the pawfect companions for us.
Dogs reduce stress and anxiety
It’s safe to say a lot of us will be feeling additional stress and anxiety in the current climate. Luckily for us dog owners, our pooches can actually help to reduce these feelings of stress and anxiety. Not only that, but they can often significantly improve our mood and happiness! Graeme explains:
“There is lots of evidence to suggest dogs reduce stress and anxiety. In fact, owning and stroking a pet has actually been shown to release endorphins – the feel good hormone. This explains why we often feel at our most relaxed when we’re just sitting with our dog”
Dogs restore normality
“Dogs are great levellers”, says Graeme.
“They bring a bit of normality, which is something we all need right now. In the same way our dogs can pick up on our mood, we can also tune in to theirs. Of course most of the time, our dogs are pretty relaxed and chilled out, and when we tap into that, everything doesn’t seem so bad… if your dog’s relaxed, it helps us to be too, and we start to think well, if my dog’s okay, I’m okay too”.
The Dogfather went on to suggest that “in a way, dogs are role models for us and we can learn a lot from them, just like they can learn from us. In a time where it’s easy to let yourself get worried and worked up, it’s important to try to be as mindful as possible, and just focus on the now. Even by doing something as simple as focussing on your dog, it somehow makes things a little more ‘normal’.”
Fresh air & exercise
Despite restrictions on our outside movement, we are still able to go out and walk our dogs – just as long as we’re being responsible and distancing ourselves two meters from others. Graeme insists
“If you’re safe to get out and keep distance, get out! A bit of fresh air and exercise is good for our mental health and soul!”
The Government advise to exercise once a day, means it’s important to make it count. So, as Graeme suggests, if you can, take your pooch for a stroll or jog and soak up some much-needed vitamin D. Find comfort in the sunshine and the birds. You’ll feel a lot better afterwards!
Obviously due to social distancing restrictions, we’re unable to meet up with friends and family or other dog-owners. Well, it’s not all doom and gloom because, as Graeme correctly points out;
“Even though we can’t go out with our dogs and be sociable like we normally would, it doesn’t necessarily mean we can’t still be sociable. There’s different types of sociable – with social media we can now be sociable online.”
He went on to suggest that “there’s still lots of ways to have a bit lighthearted fun, whether it’s by sharing adorable pictures of our pets, FaceTiming with them to our friends and family, or taking part in one of the hilarious challenges that are going round at the moment! Our dogs will always be a fantastic source of fun and laughter.”
Better home-working life
Even though many of us are no longer working in an office, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that before all this happened, dogs joining you in the workplace can significantly reduce stress.
Graeme highlights that:
“The same applies now, we still have the same if not more stresses when working from home. People tend to push themselves harder at home, it’s not as easy as it seems! So dogs can reduce that stress. Working from home with your dog can act as a buffer, something to keep you happier and more relaxed in your new and somewhat different place of work.”
Share your stories with us
How is your dog giving you paw-sitive vibes to help you through this time? We’d love to hear from you! Send a video or a picture and your story to marketing [at] petspyjamas [dot] com – we might even feature you!
About The Dogfather
Graeme is recognised as one of the UK’s leading dog trainers. As of 28 Feb 2020, he’s worked with 5107 dogs personally. He’s recommended by vets and is one of the few dog trainers chosen by the TV and film industry. You’ll frequently hear him on BBC radio. The Dogfather approach combines knowledge and understanding with a practical ability to get the results you want for your dog. That’s more than knowledge – it’s a feel for dogs & puppies. (The bit you can’t learn from books alone!). All of his and his team’s methods are non-abusive, of course.
PetsPyjamas are incredibly grateful to Graeme for offering his advice free of charge, and we hope to continue working together with Graeme to bring you more fun and interesting doggie content!