Did you know that you and your dog do drugs together? Oxytocin, to be specific. Both you and your canine companion get a big hit of this love drug every time you interact.
Oxytocin is a naturally occurring drug that facilitates bonding. It’s usually involved with the reproductive process. When a mother breast feeds her infant, for example, she and the child both experience an infusion of oxytocin. This tends to leave both mother and infant in a calm, emotionally positive state after breastfeeding. Over time, this sort of oxytocin exchange between caretaker and child cultivates a deep emotional bond that lasts throughout life.
Interestingly, when you interact with your dog, much the same things happens. When you pet or play with your dog, both you and your canine friend produce oxytocin. This means that both of you develop a true chemical and emotional bond over time, not unlike that between a parent and a child. When your dog does that uniquely canine thing and stares at your relentlessly–that’s oxytocin at work again. Direct eye contact with your dog also triggers the release of oxytocin, so consider it the look of love.
Your Dog in Therapy
I don’t need to tell you that your dog has issues. But this isn’t what bringing your dog to therapy is about. For many clients, their animals are a very important part of their lives. More specifically, your dog likely helps you feel more peaceful and calm, more optimistic about working through various challenges. Bringing your dog to therapy with you can help you open up, relax into the process. This additional oxytocin-related support may be subtle, but therapy work is often a process of nuances. And if nothing else, bringing your dog along to a therapy session may lighten things a bit, may help you get to know your therapist in a different way.
We ask only that you talk things over with your therapist before bringing in your pet.