The Perks of Owning a Dog During Lockdown

During the time of great distress that is COVID-19 lockdown, bringing my dog out to walk nearby my home has been one of many simple ways to prevent insanity. Just a few days ago, we were strolling along the muddy pathways, the sun beaming on our faces. I threw a stick, and with a wagging tail, her mouth wide open and tongue swinging side to side, she ran towards it. A smile graces my lips and I suddenly wonder what life would be without her. I still remember the day we got our German Shepherd, tiny and fragile, and it all seems so much more important during this time. This is how a dog ended up changing my life and how it could change yours, especially during lockdown.

  1. 1. Helps to alleviate mental health problems

    two brown and white dogs in a field outside

    Dogs are cuddly and cute, that’s true. But they are more than that. They can help us deal with the challenges of coping with mental health issues. With a dog’s sense of smell being about one million more sensitive than ours, evidence suggests that they can sense as our hormones change due to stress or illness. I remember times when I have experienced bad panic attacks; my dog jumped on my lap and she supported me until we both fell asleep. With lockdown heightening all of our stress levels, there's never been a better time to feel that type of support for your mental health.

  2. 2. Provides a constant source of unconditional love

    “A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.” – Josh Billings

    For many people, friendships and family are things that may come and go, but the love of a dog will always be there. It starts from the moment you bring your furry friend home and develops throughout both your lives. Your dog will always choose you regardless of how you dress, your job or social status; it's a level of love and indiscrimination some people don't feel anywhere else.

  3. 3. Encourages responsibility

    pug in a blanket

    Sure, before getting my dog I already knew how to take care of my 18-year-old self. But nothing quite teaches you independence like looking after a dog. Waking up at 5am to let your dog out, scheduling regular feeds, making sure your dog gets enough exercise and mental stimulation, and cleaning your home every day are just a few of the responsibilities a dog teaches you. You also develop a routine which promotes efficiency and stability in your life: another great benefit for your mental health. These are new skills that will be with you for life. 

  4. 4. Keeps you staying active

    With that renewed sense of responsibility and routine comes the hard truth that you cannot lay in all weekend. And during weekdays you may even have to get up earlier still. Getting up to walk your dog has a positive impact on you too, though. The exercise requirements with every dog is different, but nothing is better than getting up early and getting some fresh air with your pet. It allows you to maintain positive physical and social activity, as you get to know other dog walkers (socially distanced during lockdown, of course). Exercise also releases serotonin, your “happy hormone” which further promotes good mental health. It's a win win.

woman with dogThis is just the tip of the iceberg of reasons to get a dog, and lockdown might just be the perfect time to make the commitment. Remember, though, that these animals will need a home for life and many important factors should be considered when thinking about having a pet. Make sure to carefully consider your income, the space of your home, how a dog would react/behave with other animals in your home, and how much free time you can dedicate. Most importantly, where possible, try to opt for 'adopt, not shop'; so many loving animals are in need of a safe and loving home.