Pets Help Prevent Self-Harm Urges

May 3, 2014 Jennifer Aline Graham

When you feel the need to self-injure, it takes a lot of self-control to push away the emotions and temptations connected to those urges. When you’re angry or upset and you turn to cutting or burning, your mind focuses on that mark and it is difficult to see anything else clearly.

Sometimes, all you need to prevent self-harm urges is a few minutes with a pet.

How Pets Prevent Self-Harm Urges

During the years I struggled with cutting, I had a family dog who was probably eleven or twelve years old at the time. She was getting older, but luckily didn’t leave us until she was sixteen years old. In the mornings before I left for school, she would always be lying in the same spot. Mornings were never easy for me and sometimes just waking up led to making a mark. After some time, I started sitting on the floor with our dog to rub her stomach before walking out the door.

This became a morning routine and instead of turning to a paper clip or a pen cap before leaving, I would spend a few minutes with the dog. This may sound too easy and sometimes, it wasn’t enough to stop me from hurting myself. However, it did help begin my day with a little extra happiness. Simply sitting or playing with your pet can be therapeutic.

Pet can turn the negative into the positive. Learn about how taking a few extra minutes with your pet may help prevent self-harm urges. When I worked at a residence for youth struggling with mental illness, a co-worker talked about how her dog was a therapy dog and how she wanted to bring him in. The clients loved hearing about her dog and once I finally got a puppy of my own, they would ask about him too.

Just by talking about our pets, the clients redirected themselves from negative behaviors to positive discussions. Even if the positivity only lasted for a little while before turning back to self-injurious behaviors – it was worth it.

Plan Pet Time to Prevent Self-Harm Urges

Like I’ve stated numerous times in my blogs, it’s easier said than done when it comes to pushing through self-harm urges. However, it’s always good to have another possible coping skill to add to your list. You never know what may work for you and maybe pet therapy is what you need.

We’ve all had days when all we want is a sharp object to lessen the pain. However, sometimes all you need is a wet nose, fur and a couple extra legs to bring a spark of happiness to your day.

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APA Reference
Aline, J. (2014, May 3). Pets Help Prevent Self-Harm Urges, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 13 from

Author: Jennifer Aline Graham

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