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Dogs can provide welcome company and support during times when we might experience increased levels of anxiety, depression and loneliness.
They can boost our mood, provoke meaningful and positive emotions and provide us with love and affection. They also inspire us to get outside and exercise which we all know is hugely beneficial for our mental health.
To learn more about how our dogs can help us through periods of anxiety and depression, the expert team at digital pet insurance brand Waggel, have rounded-up the best ways to make the most of our caring pups…
Dogs socialise their owners too
Dogs can be a brilliant icebreaker for people who are suffering with social anxiety or a lack of confidence. Walking your dog in your neighbourhood is an excellent way to meet new people and have light-hearted conversations with other dog owners, all whilst adhering to social distancing of course.
Waggel’s co-founder, Ross Fretten, has opened up about his mental health journey. His dog, Sailor (who was the driving force behind starting Waggel), has allowed him to overcome his social anxiety, show vulnerability and form new friendships: “For the first time, interacting with people wasn’t so emotionally draining. Over time, this felt more natural to me as my social barriers came down. In this way, Sailor socialised me.”
Many other dog owners battling mental health issues like depression and anxiety will relate to Ross’s experience and often have wonderful anecdotes of the conversations and friendships that they have developed as a result of having their trusted pet by their side.
Have you heard about Dudes with Dogs? It’s a men’s mental health walking community that has organised walks all over the UK. Learn more about them here.
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Dogs are intuitive and provide comfort during pain
Dogs are very quick to pick up on any indications of depression or nervous tension as they can be very intuitive.
It is remarkable that, when you are at your lowest, dogs are able to find small ways to comfort you through tough times and periods of depression – whether that be by lying on you as a sign of support or asking you to play with them.
Ross Fretten says: “It’s quite extraordinary how aware he is (Sailor) and, in these tense and upsetting moments, he’s quite forceful with his affection – insisting on resting his head firmly on my shoulder.
“I saw Sailor was becoming more in tune with my emotions. Even before I’d fully manifested my anger or distress, he would position himself next to me with his paw on my knee or place his head on my neck. He read changes in my disposition before I even had time to register the feelings.”
At the end of a long or tiresome day, dogs can provide moments of happiness and laughter. They’re able to support us with their unconditional love and ground us when times are difficult, especially in lockdown when it is easy to get overwhelmed about what is going on around us.
Dogs provide responsibility and purpose
For those struggling with depression, it can be difficult to find the motivation to get up in the morning, stay productive and even leave the house. However, your pet can be a powerful motivator in maintaining a healthy routine and offering meaning to your life during these low moments.
For many, including James Middleton (brother to the Duchess of Cambridge), having a dog has helped him through his own mental health struggles by creating a sense of purpose. During an interview, James said: “The responsibility gave me purpose, which created structure in my life.”
With a dog comes dependency so, whilst you may you feel down, you are forced to get up and look after your pet even when you feel unable to look after yourself. A dog constantly reminds its owner of how much it needs them and provides them with a purpose to get up in the morning.
In uncertain times like these, structure is very important, particularly for those who struggle with anxiety, as it allows for a sense of stability and control.
They get you outdoors
During the winter period, many people experience seasonal depression due to the darker days and colder weather and therefore lack motivation to go outdoors. As dogs require daily walks, they’re great for getting you outdoors when you don’t feel up to it.
Although taking your dog for a walk in the cold may not seem hugely enticing, keeping active with your pet will not only improve your physical health, but also your mental health – particularly for those who are stressed. If you are battling anxiety and depression, going for a walk can be hugely beneficial as it helps clear the mind and allows you to be more present.
Many dog walkers will come back feeling much more positive and upbeat than when they set off – a brisk walk with your pet will release endorphins that help reduce emotional stress and stimulate feelings of content, resulting in an uplifting mood.
Getting outdoors when you are feeling low and unmotivated can also provide you with a sense of pride and accomplishment.
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28 indestructible dog toys for aggressive chewers
Great for chewing — Best Indestructible Chew Toys
KONG – Tires – Durable Rubber Chew Toy and Treat Dispenser for Power Chewers – For Medium/Large Dogs
This tyre-shaped chew toy has been made from durable rubber, so it’s perfect for determined chewers. It also gives owners the chance to fill the inside with tasty treats, too. Available in two sizes for you to choose the best for your breed.
READ MORE: 6 dog games great for training and bonding
Chew ring — Best Indestructible Chew Toys
Nylabone Power Chew Textured Dog Chew Ring Toy Flavor Medley Flavor X-Large/Souper – 50+ lbs.
US$5.99 (43% off)
Made from durable nylon, this long-lasting chew toy challenges the most aggressive chewers. Your pup is certain to love the tasty flavour, too.
Cuddly toy — Best Indestructible Chew Toys
Dragon with Chew Guard Technology
As well as being cosy to cuddle, this sweet dragon toy features chew guard technology with a durable layer.
Ring toy — Best Indestructible Chew Toys
Kong Ring Dog Toy
Built for durability, this bright red dog toy will offer your four-legged friend mental and physical stimulation. And at just £8.50, it’s a real steal buy.
Fun bear toy — Best Indestructible Chew Toys
Wild Knots Bear
Soft yet durable, this cute grey bear has minimal stuffing and an internal knotted rope skeleton.
Tough material — Best Indestructible Chew Toys
Planet Dog Orbee-Tuff Planet Ball Blue
One of the toughest dog balls on the market, this sweet ‘planet’ design has been made with award-winning Orbee Tuff material. Certain to provide hours of fun…
Perfect for fetch — Best Indestructible Chew Toys
West Paw Design Zogoflex Jive Dog Toy
Does your pup love to play fetch? Well, this dog toy is one of the most durable styles around — and will aim to stand the test of time, no matter how much it is used.
Great for swimmers — Best Indestructible Chew Toys
Ruffwear Dog Toy with Rope Handle
Ideal for dogs who love to swim, this floating fabric toy has a handle and is designed with abrasion-resistant materials for increased durability. Make sure not to forget it on your next beach trip.
Ideal for larger breeds — Best Indestructible Chew Toys
JW Pet Company Megalast Ball Dog Toy, Large
Want to treat your pup to a long-lasting toy? This floating ball has been constructed from thermo plastic rubber and is also infused with vanilla extract.
Ideal for the water — Best Indestructible Chew Toys
Planet Dog Orbee-Tuff Squeak
This is no ordinary ball: made with aggressive chewers in mind, it’s perfect for pups who need something firm to hold onto. It is 100% non-toxic, has a fun squeak sound and is infused with a natural mint oil.
Best for snack time — Best Indestructible Chew Toys
Pet-Fun Medium Mango – Safe Fun Durable Rubber Dog Chew Toy for Boredom, Virtually Indestructible Treat Dispenser, Long-Lasting Slow Feeder, Tough Strong Teething Toy for Medium/Small Dogs
This durable rubber mango toy — which can be filled with dog treats — is sure to provide hours of chewing fun. Perfect for small and medium dog breeds.
Tug of war toy — Best Indestructible Chew Toys
Ruffer and Tuffer Tug Of War Rope and Chew Dog Toy
Keep your dog entertained for hours with this colourful chew toy on a durable rope. The makers explain: “Ruffer and Tuffer is specially designed to be stronger than the average, with a unique construction that delivers added durability with superior strength.”
Ideal for aggressive chewers — Best Indestructible Chew Toys
Dog Chew Toys for Aggressive Chewers
Great for training — Best Indestructible Chew Toys
Nero Ball Ultra TM – Dog Training Ball On A Rope – Exercise and Reward Toy for Dogs
The Nero Ball
Thanks to the built-in rope, owners can throw this ball further for their pups to chase. It is used by the K-9 police as well as the Military Working Dog Teams, so it’s both tough and durable. Brilliant if you want to train and motivate your dog.
Fun duck toy — Best Indestructible Chew Toys
Go Quackers Duck Dog Toy
Give your pup a reason to have some fun with this adorable duck toy. Hardwearing and well-crafted, it has a hidden squeaker to keep your pet entertained.
Ideal for adding snacks — Best Indestructible Chew Toys
Idepet Dog Toy Ball, Nontoxic Bite Resistant Dog Chew Ball Food Treat Feeder Tooth Cleaning Exercise Game Ball
Perfect for fetch and interaction with your dog, this ball has been made with extra-tough rubber to stand the test of time. Thanks to its soft and unique surface, the ball will also keep your dog’s gums healthy.
Ideal for playing catch — Best Indestructible Chew Toys
Kong Airdog® Squeaker Football Dog Toy
Let the fun commence with this long-lasting squeaker football dog toy. Perfect for keeping your dog entertained in the garden.
Wheel toy — Best Indestructible Chew Toys
Ruffer and Tuffer Mighty Wheel Dog Toy
Ruffer and Tuffer
This strong wheel dog toy is perfect for aggressive pulling and tugging. The specially developed soft rubber design helps to clean their teeth and massage their gums, while its engaging shape will provide hours of fun.
Chewable stick — Best Indestructible Chew Toys
Chewable Stick Coffee Tree Wood Small
This durable wooden stick is great for dogs who love to chew regularly. While keeping your dog occupied for hours, it’s also great for their dental hygiene.
Best squeaking toy — Best Indestructible Chew Toys
Kong Airdog® Squeaker Donut Dog Toy
Built to last, this fun donut dog toy has been made from high-quality material will not wear down dogs’ teeth.
Ideal for playing fetch — Best Indestructible Chew Toys
Interactive Fetch Dog Toy with Tennis Ball
Bone — Best Indestructible Chew Toys
Nylabone Dura Chew Plus, Chicken, Medium
This chew toy encourages healthy, non-destructive chewing habits with dogs.
Great for puppies — Best Indestructible Chew Toys
Nylabone Gentle Puppy Dog Teething Bone
Great for young puppies, this gentle bone will help teething pups who have not yet formed any adult teeth.
Pineapple toy — Best Indestructible Chew Toys
Pet-Fun Large Indestructible Pineapple –
This durable pineapple toy has been built to last, helping to solve destructive chewing, teething, dental health, boredom, separation anxiety, training, and exercise.
Great for heavy chewers — Best Indestructible Chew Toys
KONG Jump n Jack Dog Toy
We love this unique toy, which is great for chew sessions and endless fun. Top tip: fill with peanut butter to extend playtime and satisfy chewing instincts.
Onion toy — Best Indestructible Chew Toys
Petface Latex Onion Large Dog Toy
In a blush pink, this large onion toy is surprisingly durable. Best of all, it’s just over £3.
Perfect for chewers — Best Indestructible Chew Toys
Pet Qwerks REAL BACON Infused BarkBone
This durable Bark Bone is infused with real bacon and is perfect for even the toughest chewers. Its non-toxic and non-allergenic materials mean its safe for your pup to enjoy.
Rubber frisbee — Best Indestructible Chew Toys
KONG – Extreme Flyer – Durable Rubber
Looking for a durable rubber frisbee? Well, look no further, as this red style from KONG is perfect for keeping your four-legged friends fit and healthy.
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