If you’re starting to feel that the only thing between you and a major stress attack is your dog, you’re in good company. With the dismal financial news blaring from every TV and the incessant election hype, it’s hard to tune out the turmoil. Lucky for you, you’ve got a four-legged stress-reliever on the job. (With free room and board, it’s the least he could do.) There are numerous compelling studies linking health to animal companionship – they have shown that owning a pet can provide excellent social support, relieve stress and depression, reduce blood pressure, and improve exercise habits.

Get the most out of your own personal pet therapist with these top tips.


Exercise Together. Even dogs know that exercising helps reduce stress and produce a more positive state of mind. But, when the stress hits, exercise can fall to the last thing on your list. To keep you motivated and clear your mind, bring your pup along for long walk on one of the great hiking trails in the area. Check out bahiker.com for the best local hiking spots; it even lists whether or not the trails are dog-friendly. You can spend all day trotting in the fresh air, enjoying the outdoors, and did we mention? It’s free. These days that’s a good thing.


Increase Your Social Circle Having many friends and acquaintances has great stress management benefits, so plan a happy hour or potluck at the dog park to get to know those people you greet frequently with a smile and wave. Dogs are great icebreakers, and can’t help but make gatherings casual and fun. Some parks require a permit to save a spot so make sure to check the rules.


Volunteer for Needy Pets. Sometimes taking care of yourself means enjoying to care for someone else. This is especially easy when that someone is an adorable shelter pup in need of a walk, a bath or a hug. To find volunteer opportunities, visit the Shelter & Rescue page at WoofReport.com or check in with your local SPCA.


We don’t need to tell you; the love of a dog has the power to restore, rejuvenate and renew. Tap into your pup’s secret powers for less stress and more fun. Your dog makes it easy.


Thank you to Dot and Tabby for the photo.