Seasonal blues are nothing new but after the year we’ve been through there is no doubt that things are much harder mentally and emotionally. Winter is an extremely difficult time of year, lack of daylight from shorter days and the colder weather certainly doesn’t do much to cheer us up.
It’s well known that dog owners are less likely to suffer from depression and can even have lower blood pressure than people that don’t have a furry friend.
Cavaliers bring great joy to our lives for the most part, just playing with them can elevate levels of dopamine and serotonin. These chemical messengers, or neurotransmitters, help us with regulating our bodily functions including metabolism, emotional wellbeing, memory and sleep.
Serotonin and dopamine are commonly referred to as ‘’happy hormones’’. They are directly involved in some mental health conditions as they play a part in regulating our mood and vitality.
Getting well wrapped up and taking the dogs for a lovely brisk walk and therefore getting your daily exercise will in turn make you and your dog feel better. You will both reap the benefits as aerobic exercise including walking have been proved to increase blood circulation to the brain and reduce anxiety and depression.
Dogs clearly love a walk, getting out sniffing other dogs ‘pee-mail’ is a lot of the fun. If you can mix it up so they get to visit new environments with different sights and smells then even better- for you both.
Dog training is another really enjoyable way of connecting emotionally to your dog and also forgetting about everything else you have going on. It doesn’t mean you need a rigid plan of completing a big training program with your dog- even learning a trick or two is great fun for you both.
Where to start? Start basic! Just teaching your dog some basic commands or brushing up on the skills they already know is a good start. Prepare plenty of tasty treats to set yourself up for success and just do 10 minutes a day to start with. As we all know, most Cavaliers are partial to a treat or three so you will quickly win them over! They are a very, very intelligent breed and usually are so keen to learn new things.
We love Victoria Stillwell methods of positive training the most, more info here https://positively.com/dog-training/
Ok so we are amid a pandemic but we can all still have a chat with other dog walkers at a safe distance. In fact this alone has helped some of our volunteers that live alone get through the year. For so many people this will be the only time they see another person all day so make the effort to stop. Just a simple chin-wag can really give you both a huge boost.
No matter which Covid tier you are currently in you are allowed to meet up with a friend outside for a walk. Doing this has helped so many of us to have some face-to-face human conversation without getting too close and putting ourselves at risk.
Dogs are fantastic at being ice-breakers for us, they make chatting to other dog walkers really easy and you already have something in common with each other so if you get stuck for words you can coo over their dog! Cavaliers can really give your self confidence a huge boost especially if you are an anxious person and get tongue-tied. If you feel that you are becoming stuck for words bend down for a stroke and then try again.
This actually may be the most helpful part of owning a dog when you have the blues. Often people feeling down don’t want to do anything at all, having simply no motivation or interest in doing anything. It can be hard to see a way forwards with nothing to look forward to.
Owning a Cavalier means you are forced into doing things such as feeding, walking and grooming them. It may at times seem a real struggle to get through the day and do these tasks but people, just like dogs, benefit hugely from having a routine and structure to the day.
Cavaliers provide excellent companionship and are very people orientated. They want to be with you as much as possible and will follow you around everywhere you go- yes even the bathroom isn’t off limits for them!
Stroking a dog is said to lower your blood pressure and make you feel more relaxed. I truly believe this is the case, there is nothing better than a warm snuggle with your Cavalier to make the stress disappear.
The winter will be over soon enough and we will be stepping happily into spring! There is a great saying that fits this article so well- ‘’Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain’’.
With your darling Cavalier you can do this!