Man Starts Dog Walking Group to Help Guys Cope with Depression

Rob Osman has a long history of battling depression and anxiety. Over the years, he has worked hard to overcome his mental illness. He even pursued a degree in counseling and psychology. But of all the techniques he has used to feel better, the one that had the greatest impact was walking his dog, Mali. When he realized how therapeutic dog walking could be, he decided to help other men access those healing benefits. Dudes & Dogs was born.

Rob Realized That Dog Walking Had an Immediate Positive Effect

No matter how low or worried Rob was feeling, taking Mali out for a walk had an immediate positive effect. On one particularly dreary day, the weather was completely in line with Rob’s mood. It was cold, damp, and crazy windy. He didn’t want to do much of anything at all, particularly if it involved going outside. Then he looked at Mali. She certainly didn’t care that the weather was awful. She was ready to get out there, breathe in the fresh air, and have some fun! Rob obliged. His body relaxed and the tension melted away. His mind cleared. And he felt better for it.

Rob Realized He and Mali Could Help Other Guys

Mental illness impacts men at lower rates than women. At least, officially. The problem is that men are frequently more resistant to get help for their symptoms. Therefore, depression and other mental illnesses among men are likely to be under-reported. Men are more likely to try to deal with their symptoms internally. Rob wants to change that.

“Talking helps. It really does,” Osman says on the Dudes & Dogs website. “It’s helped me no end, but sometimes as men, we aren’t the best at it. Well, Dudes & Dogs wants to change that for the next generation. There is no doubt things are changing. We want to be a part of that. By simply getting outside, talking things through, we can start to change our mood.”

Being Outside and Among Dogs Has an Opening Effect

Rob started inviting guy friends and their dogs out on walks with him and Mali. Sometimes they would walk along quietly. Other times they would open up to each other. The dogs and fresh air seem to have an opening-up impact, encouraging them to talk about things they normally hold inside. Rob told Today, “They need someone to listen. The idea of using a dog gives people an hour away from the family and gets them out. Dogs are like four-legged antidepressants. When people are around them they drop their defenses. They play with the dog.”

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