The Healing Power of Dogs: How They Help Owners Overcome Trauma and Grief

Hello and thank you for reading this piece about  the healing power of dogs. Dogs are more than just animals to keep as pets; they may be dependable friends in times of need. Many dog owners attest to the therapeutic effects of their furry pals, and studies have demonstrated that this is the case. This article will discuss the role dogs play in assisting their owners in recovering from emotional hardships. We’ll talk about how dogs can help people and share some true examples of how therapy dogs have changed people’s lives.

Healing Power of Dogs
Healing Power of Dogs

Understanding Trauma and Grief

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can occur in persons who have experienced catastrophic experiences such a natural disaster, physical assault, or the loss of a loved one (PTSD). Depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders are common side effects of post-traumatic stress disorder. When a person suffers a profound loss, such as the passing of a loved one or a beloved pet, they may go through a range of emotions known together as grief. Physical symptoms, such as loss of appetite and difficulty sleeping, can accompany more emotional ones, such as sadness, anger, and guilt, when someone is grieving. Individuals may require assistance and coping methods as they move through the emotions associated with traumatic experiences and loss. To that end, some canine companions may be useful.

How Dogs Help with Trauma and Grief – Dog Trauma

Several scientific research has demonstrated the beneficial effects of dogs on human psychological and emotional health. Research shows that oxytocin, the “feel-good” hormone, is elevated after time with dogs. The stress hormone cortisol is reduced via time spent with dogs.

The emotional support provided by dogs: Canines are sometimes called “man’s best friend” for the comfort and company they can provide their owners. They are one of the few people who can truly love and support a person no matter what, which can be invaluable to those who are dealing with trauma and loss.

Ways in which dogs specifically help their owners deal with pain and loss: There are many ways in which a dog can aid an owner in processing sorrow and trauma. Some of how pets benefit their owners include making their owners feel at ease, reducing feelings of isolation, and offering a positive diversion from bad emotions. Caring for a dog can give its owners a feeling of purpose and routine that may be lacking in their lives.

With regards to specific methods, some dog owners may find that spending time with their dog, whether by going on a walk or just sitting together, can be soothing and centring. Some people find that engaging in dog-related activities, such as agility training or dog shows, helps them focus on the good and channel negative feelings. What methods are most effective, in the end, will depend on the person and their particular circumstances.

Signs of Depression in Dogs

  • Loss of appetite: A dog who is experiencing depression may lose interest in food or refuse to eat altogether.
  • Decreased energy: Depression can make a dog seem lethargic or listless, with less interest in playing, walking, or other activities they typically enjoy.
  • Withdrawal or avoidance: Dogs who are feeling depressed may become more withdrawn or avoid spending time with their owners or other dogs.
  • Changes in sleep patterns: A depressed dog may sleep more than usual or have difficulty sleeping at night.
  • Increased irritability: A dog who is feeling depressed may be more irritable or easily agitated, even in situations that wouldn’t typically bother them.
  • Lack of interest in grooming: A depressed dog may stop grooming themselves or seem less interested in being groomed by their owner.
  • Hiding or seeking comfort: Some dogs may hide or seek comfort in unusual places if they are feeling depressed.
  • Sudden accidents: A dog who is experiencing depression may be more prone to accidents or sudden changes in their behavior, such as urinating indoors.
  • Excessive licking or self-injury: Some dogs may resort to excessive licking or self-injury if they are feeling depressed, as a way to cope with their emotions.

It’s important to note that these symptoms can also be signs of other health issues, so it’s always a good idea to take your dog to the vet if you notice any sudden changes in their behavior or mood.

Case Studies 

Case studies are an effective method of illustrating how dogs can aid their human companions in processing and moving past loss and suffering. Readers will gain an appreciation for the role dogs can play in providing comfort and healing by hearing about people’s personal experiences.

Animal assisted therapy, which can involve therapy dogs, has been shown to help alleviate symptoms of anxiety, melancholy, and PTSD in children who have been the victims of abuse or trauma, according to a study done by the American Humane Association.

Moreover, there are several first-person accounts from dog owners who have benefited from their pets’ therapeutic abilities. A woman who lost her husband in a vehicle accident is one example. She felt better after spending time with her dog, who also motivated her to get out of bed and take care of herself. There’s also the tale of a serviceman who had trouble coping with post-traumatic stress disorder following his time in the military. Whenever he felt overwhelmed, he knew he could turn to his dog for comfort.

These accounts demonstrate the significant influence that dogs may have on humans. They can help us recover from trauma and loss by providing company, emotional support, and a sense of meaning in life.

Choosing the Right Dog for Emotional Support

It is well documented that dogs provide their human companions with comfort and companionship. However, not every dog is cut out for this job. Dogs trained to provide emotional support can be found in a wide range of sizes and shapes, and each breed has its own set of qualities. Golden Retrievers, Labradors, Standard Poodles, Bernese Mountain Dogs, and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are just a few of the breeds that make good companion animals.

Factors to consider when choosing a dog

When choosing a dog for emotional support, there are several factors to consider to ensure you find the right fit for your specific needs

  1. Breed Characteristics: Consider the breed characteristics of different dogs and choose the one that fits your lifestyle, personality, and preferences. Some breeds are naturally more affectionate, while others are more independent.
  2. Size: The size of your dog can also be a factor to consider, especially if you have limited space or mobility issues.
  3. Temperament: Your emotional support dog should have a calm, friendly, and nurturing temperament.
  4. Trainability: Emotional support dogs require training to learn how to provide emotional support effectively. Choose a dog breed that is easy to train and willing to please.
  5. Personal Connection: It is essential to choose a dog with whom you feel a personal connection. Spend time with different dogs to find one that resonates with you emotionally.
  6. Health: Ensure that the dog you choose is in good health and free of any medical conditions that could interfere with their ability to provide emotional support.

By considering these factors when choosing a dog for emotional support, you can increase the chances of finding a perfect companion who can help you overcome trauma and grief.

Training Your Dog for Emotional Support

When it comes to healing from trauma and sorrow, having a trained emotional support dog can make a world of difference. Aside from being well-mannered and obedient in public, emotional support dogs must be trained to comfort and support their owners. This is because dogs who have been certified as emotional support are often permitted access to establishments where pets are normally prohibited, such as aircraft, hospitals, and schools.

Tips for training your dog:

  1. Start early: Begin training your dog as early as possible to ensure they are well-behaved and obedient.
  2. Consistency: Consistency is key in training your dog. Use the same commands and rewards each time you train your dog.
  3. Positive reinforcement: Use positive reinforcement when training your dog. Reward your dog with treats or praise when they behave well.
  4. Socialization: Socialize your dog with other dogs and people to ensure they are comfortable in different environments and situations.
  5. Seek professional help: Consider hiring a professional dog trainer to help you train your dog for emotional support. They can offer expert advice and help address any specific training needs your dog may have.

By training your dog for emotional support, you can create a stronger bond with your furry friend while also helping to support your emotional well being.


Summarizing canines’ restorative abilities:
The conclusion should provide a quick summary of the main issues presented in the paper, with special emphasis on the therapeutic benefits of dogs for those dealing with loss and trauma. Perhaps this could be done by elaborating on the specific ways in which dogs benefit their owners, such as by offering companionship, emotional support, and a renewed sense of purpose in life.

The final paragraph should encourage readers who are experiencing trauma or bereavement to think about adopting an emotional support dog. One approach would be to highlight the positive effects that emotional support dogs can have on their owners’ mental health, and to highlight the general benefits of owning a dog as a companion.

Anyone curious about emotional support dogs can consult the following materials:
In the end, the reader may be able to get additional information regarding service dogs for people with emotional needs. Information on this topic, such as where to find a skilled trainer who can assist in training a dog for emotional support, or connections to relevant websites, should be provided. In addition, it may advise the reader to speak with a mental health expert or veterinarian to be sure that having an emotional support dog is the best option.

The final section should leave the reader feeling upbeat and encouraged, having emphasised the positive role dogs can play in helping people cope with difficult emotions like loss and trauma.


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