31 Ways Dogs Can Help Your Mental Health

For many Oklahomans, dogs are more than our pets. They’re our furry friends, family members, and sometimes, even our therapists. And the best news? Man’s best friend is an expert at boosting our mental health. 

It’s scientific too. Loving on the family pup or a therapy dog has been shown to lower blood pressure, boost oxytocin and dopamine levels, combat loneliness, and reduce depression and stress, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Now that you know, grab their leash and get to exploring. The 988 Mental Health Lifeline has pulled together our top Fido-friendly activities to improve your mental health — and your dog’s too!

  1. Go for a long walk or hike
  2. Practice mindfulness while petting your dog
  3. Take a yoga class together
  4. Play fetch at the park
  5. Try obedience training with your dog
  6. Go for a run or jog
  7. Teach your dog a new trick
  8. Attend a dog-friendly event or festival
  9. Take a road trip with your dog
  10. Volunteer at a local animal shelter or rescue
  11. Play tug-of-war or hide-and-seek with your dog
  12. Take a dog-friendly vacation
  13. Attend a dog-friendly outdoor movie screening
  14. Have a picnic in the park with your dog
  15. Attend a dog-friendly yoga class or workshop
  16. Go swimming or paddleboarding with your dog
  17. Practice deep breathing exercises with your dog
  18. Take a bike ride together
  19. Attend a dog-friendly wine tasting or brewery tour
  20. Try agility training with your dog
  21. Take a day trip to a nearby beach or lake
  22. Host a doggie playdate with friends and their dogs
  23. Read a book or watch a movie with your dog by your side
  24. Visit a dog-friendly restaurant or café
  25. Go on a camping trip with your dog
  26. Practice meditation with your dog
  27. Attend a dog-friendly concert or music festival
  28. Take a trip to a dog-friendly winery or vineyard
  29. Have a doggie spa day at home
  30. Try a new dog-friendly activity
  31. Have a game night with your dog, playing games like “red light, green light” or “Simon says”

About 988 Mental Health Lifeline

988 is a direct three-digit mental health lifeline, connecting Oklahomans with trained behavioral health professionals that can get us the help we need. If you’re experiencing a mental health crisis, struggling with suicidal thoughts, or need to talk through depression, anxiety, and more, give us a call or text “988” any time.

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