Dogs are an important part of our community here at Herren Wellness. They provide companionship, healthy activity, and fun for our guests and team members alike.

Pictured are a few of our current and former guests’ dogs as well as our staff’s dogs including Winston, Bama, Brody, Leo, Sweet, Lou, Awlly, Hattie, Maddie, Maggie, and Dakota.

The Emotional and Physical Benefits of Pets in Recovery

Dogs are extensions of our families and loving companions to people of all ages and stages of life. But did you know that dogs, and other pets, can also bolster and support your emotional health and recovery?

Heroin, heroin abuse, overdose, opiates, opiate abuse, overdose, addiction, addiction treatment, drug addiction

There are therapy and assistance dogs specially trained for this purpose, but ANY beloved pet can provide the unconditional love and support that helps healing.

Studies have shown that pets do wonders for mental and physical health. If you already own a pet, you may have already felt the power of how their bond with you and unconditional love can help. If don’t already own a pet, it’s possible that a pet might help! It’s important to note that a pet is always a big responsibility so take time to ask advice and consider if your current lifestyle and schedule can support a pet. This is particularly important in early recovery when you want to keep added stress to a minimum.

If you’d love to interact more with animals but can’t currently get one for yourself, volunteering at a local animal shelter or offering to walk a friend’s dog, are other great alternatives.

Here are just some of the ways dogs help to support your mental and physical health:

Unconditional Love and Support: Dogs love you unconditionally. They are always happy to see you and they never judge. They can typically sense when you’re feeling low, anxious, and/or depressed, and often will give you extra attention and love just when you need it most.

the dogs of herren wellness how pets support addiction recovery

Help Stave Off Isolation: Isolation can be difficult for people in recovery and dogs provide constant companionship. Their daily need for a walk provides structure and socializing as you encounter other dog owners along your daily route! Dog owners love to talk about – what else? – dogs, so there is rarely an awkward conversational moment.

Responsibility and a Healthier Lifestyle: Dogs also require daily attention with food, water, training, and structure of their own, so owning a dog gives you daily responsibilities that build healthy structure back into your life, too.

Stress Reduction: Provided you have the space in your life for a pet, dogs help reduce stress in your life.

Research has shown that interacting with a dog can have the following physical benefits:

  • Decrease in heart rate and blood pressure
  • Reduced breathing rate
  • Reduction in the stress hormone cortisol
  • Increase in health endorphins
  • Bolstered immune system

People who interact with a dog regularly also report a reduction in physical symptoms such as pain, fatigue, and emotional distress.

Living in the Present Moment: Learning to live comfortably in the present moment is a key tool for people in recovery. Dogs can give us lessons in living in the ‘now’ as they are content simply to romp in the sunshine, get belly rubs, or just be around you.

Watching a dog’s contentedness with what they have right in front of them helps pull you into the present moment, too.

Dogs also help pull you out of your own head and help avoid becoming overly preoccupied with problems. They demand attention and to have their daily needs met which will pull you both into the present moment and out of your own head whether you want to or not!

Learning to care for a dog and focus on its wellbeing and happiness expands your own awareness of the world around you.

Heroin, heroin abuse, overdose, opiates, opiate abuse, overdose, addiction, addiction treatment, drug addiction, herren wellness

About Herren Wellness

When you come here, you are immediately connected with a thriving community of people at all stages of their recovery journey. We introduce healthy habits and routines centered around emotional, physical, and spiritual wellness that provide a solid foundation for rediscovering your interests, experiencing joy in sobriety, and building structure and routine.

We also provide guests with the option to bring their dog with them or to work with their family to bring their dog for visits on weekends. If you would like to bring your pet with you during your stay, please ask a member of our team for the specific policies and protocol.

Your connection to Herren Wellness doesn’t end when your stay ends; we are there for you throughout your recovery journey. We provide several alumni support communities, including a weekly recovery support group, monthly alumni meeting, and online alumni community you can access anytime.

If you, or a loved one, are looking for help, please call us at (844) 443-7736, email us at, or fill out a contact form. You are not alone.