Do you talk to your pet?
Admit it! We all talk to our pets, don’t we? Most of us announce “Dinner” or “Walkies”! Some of us really have heart to hearts with our canine or feline companions. And research reveals that this may be good for us.
Confiding in your dog can help release stress. And other psychological problems may also be relieved by your dog’s listening ear. Even if they cannot understand a word you say!
Some people talk to a psychologist or a counsellor when they have issues. Others chat with a family member of close friend. But what if this doesn’t bring relief or you don’t have these resources available to you? Is it possible for a pet to replace a human in your times of need?
Well, yes, it is possible and it seems that we may be even more likely to turn to our pets, especially our dogs, in times of need.
Research, from Cambridge University, has been looking at children who have been dealing with stressful events in their lives – divorce, bereavement and so on – or they have come from disadvantaged backgrounds. They found that, at 12 years old, children were more likely to have stronger relationships with their pets than with their peers. And the girls were more likely to talk to their pets than their brothers or sisters.
We know that children enjoy sharing their secrets with their pets and like to confide in their furry family members. In case you think that this is not a particularly healthy habit – confiding in your pet – rest assured it is all good. Children who shared feelings with their dogs also showed higher levels of socially desirable behaviours. Behaviours such as helping and sharing.
But it’s not just children who benefit from these close relationships with pets. At the University of Lincoln, in the UK, scientists asked men and women which emotions they would share with their dogs. As we might expect, females were more willing to share their emotions, particularly emotions of depression, jealousy, calmness and apathy.
“Oh Chilli dog, I really don’t feel like going to the gym today! All these people with perfect bodies just makes me feel depressed!”
Men (again, we might have guessed this!) were less likely to discuss their emotional states overall, and when they were willing to talk about their feelings, this was shared equally between dog and partner.
This study only looked at heterosexual adults, so there may be differences in our gay pet-owner communities.
So what can we learn from this? That confiding in your dog or other pets may help you cope with your emotions and your psychological stress, especially if you are a child or a woman. But perhaps men have just not tried it yet!
Here’s my challenge to you men out there. Talk to your dogs, your cats and any other pets you feel close to. Especially if you don’t have a partner or supportive other half. You just might feel better by talking to your pet.
Let us know how your chats go. And let us know if you do talk to your pets.
I wonder what dogs would say to us, if they could talk?!
More about talking to your pets
- Evans-Wilday http://eprints.lincoln.ac.uk/23696/