There is much research to support the theory that keeping a pet can reduce stress levels. Worrying and stress compound the effects of seasonal affective disorder (‘SAD’). This article tells you about the various ways in which keeping a pet can help to offset those bad effects. Many pets, including cats, tropical fish and even parrots, help. My own favourites are dogs, and springer spaniels in particular.
Company for You
If your family has grown up or you live alone for other reasons, then a dog is great company. Therefore, having ‘someone to care for’ provides real and tangible health benefits. Of course, a cat is company, as is a caged bird, but they are less demanding than a dog.
A demanding pet is a good thing, because it gives you a reason to get out of bed in the morning and get out in the daylight, getting exercise. With a cat you just put down the food and the cat comes and goes through the catflap in the door – there’s little benefit there for you. Of course, the cat will come and curl up on your lap in front of the TV in the evening, and that does reduce stress.
Caring Moves Your Focus
If you live alone, whether through choice or circumstances, then the effects of SAD are intensified, because you have only yourself to focus on. If you have a pet to care for, then the caring shifts some of your focus away from yourself, at least for some of the time. The less time you spend looking inwards and the more time spend looking outwards, then the better it is for you.
Laughter Releases Endorphins
Springer spaniels are generally very happy dogs and love having fun. This is good for you – my Springers made me laugh each and every day. They are smart dogs and that adds to the fun! Laughter helps release those feel-good endorphins in the brain – more SAD therapy for you.
Springers will hunt and retrieve for hours on end – they love a game of hide and seek with an old sock or glove – and this leads to more fun and exercise for you too, as well as taking your mind off your own problems. As we know, exercise is a therapy for seasonal affective disorder, realeasing those endorphins in the brain.
Unlike an aquarium of tropical fish, dogs are much more interesting, in my opinion. They have distinctive personalities, as cats do too. However, if you are unable to ‘get about’ easily – perhaps lacking a transport, or for health reasons – then tropical fish are great stress reducers too. And, let’s not forget parrots – they will talk to you!
Well, dogs are my favourite – and Springer Spaniels in particular – but generally any form of pet will add interest and diversion into your day. Dogs, and particularly Springer Spaniels, offer probably the widest range of benefits to a SAD sufferer. So, think about a pet as a possible component in the holisitic approach to beating SAD.
The author has lived with seasonal affective disorder for many years. He has devised his own holistic approach to the condition.
Does your springer spaniel bark excessively? Springer spaniels are not noted for barking excessively like some small pooches do, though they can get excited at times. You do need them to bark when there’s a stranger outside your home, or with pleasure when the kids come home from school, and of course, when nature calls! But annoying the neighbours? No, you don’t want that.
The good news is that there are answers to the problem, depending on what the reason for the springer spaniel barking is. Knowing why might lead you to the best solution. Do remember, though, that dogs bark as we talk. I bet that even you talk to yourself when you are sometimes alone! I do, anyway (maybe I’m crazy). Maybe you need the advice of a renowned a professional dog trainer such as Dr Denis Fetko (‘Dr Dog’), so that you can save yourself a load of hassle, and best of all, cure your springer at an affordable cost.
Why do they bark?
Besides communication, Spaniels bark because of:
The key thing is that you want them to bark under certain conditions only, and you want them to be quiet when you tell them. You don’t want to stop them barking completely.
We’ll assume that
1. Your dog is checked regularly when you groom her (or him).
2. That he/she gets checked annually by the vet.
3. That the dog’s normal living space is at the right temperature.
4. That he gets enough exercise.
5. That in fact you do not have lots of strangers calling at the door, and that there are not a lot of foxes or raccoons in your garden at night (get the idea)?
Does your springer only causes a problem when he’s alone and you are in work, and the neighbours complain about it? If she is not not messing in the house then the reason could be loneliness. Try leaving a radio playing.
Dogs do suffer from poor hearing (especially older ones) even deafness on occasion, and it’s essential to check regularly that your springer’s ears are clean. He might not be able to hear you telling him to stop barking.
Is the problem new?
If your dog was ok before, but is now a problem, then that is a sign that something has changed – it could be his age or health, it could be that your daughter (he’s been her favourite) now has her boyfriend visit and he’s jealous.
Have you changed his food? Moved home? Bought him a new dog basket?
In short, does he have anything to complain about – because they are smart dogs and they complain if they are not happy. One of my springers didn’t bark when he was unhappy or I scolded him – he grunted like an old man.
What’s the Answer?
OK, so you’ve worked through all the obvious things. Maybe your springer spaniel is now 8 months old and the barking problem continues. Training is going well, he is now obeying the basic commands and walking to heel, you have started the ‘fetch’ training, yet the excessive barking persists.
Maybe you’ve got a rescue dog and not a pup. He might have had a tough life so far, you don’t always know. Did you ask the staff at the rescue centre if he barked excessively? It’s not always a sure guide, as there’s often a lot of barking at these centres anyway – the staff have no control over which dogs arrive at their gates.
There are plenty of solutions to the barking problem (depending on the reason), but first of all, don’t reinforce the behaviour. If the dog barks, then don’t give her a cuddle – it doesn’t work with kids and will not work with her.
Some people favour electric collars – that’s an old approach and not in keeping with best practice. The key to curing is understanding, and if you’ve looked at the problem from all angles without success, then you probably need professional advice.
Dr Denis Fetko is a leading dog behaviour expert, and can help you stop your springer’s excessive barking. His expertise is readily available, affordable and very popular, not only for springer spaniel barking problems. Check him out at Dr Dog!
English springer spaniels have eye colouring ranging from hazel to dark brown, but springer pups have blue eyes (just like human babies) until the colour starts to emerge as they grow.
There’s a good picture which shows the springer pup’s blue eyes here: