The Psychology of Relaxation: How Dogs Can Help Golfers De-Stress

Golf is a sport synonymous with relaxation and tranquility. Pristine fairways, stunning nature, fresh air, and light, refreshing physical exercise all contribute towards a calmer mind and a happier soul. 

Yet, even in these moments of leisure, the pressures of performance and the pursuit of perfection can seep in. A game meant for relaxation can turn into a silent battleground of stress!

But you know what else contributes to a happier soul? Dogs, of course! Whether you’re worrying over your handicap or struggling to get the golf ball where you want it to go, your four-legged friend can be your best partner in the quest for stress relief and true relaxation. 

A Furry Companion’s Calming Effect: The Science Explained 

There’s actual science behind your fluffy friend’s calming effect! When you spend some time with your pup, playing, cuddling, or just sitting together quietly and enjoying each other’s company, your body releases oxytocin, AKA the love hormone. 

This happy hormone does a lot of things in the body, including making you feel relaxed and content. It also helps you to bond with your pooch, promoting trust and love between the two of you! 

Aside from promoting relaxation, it also plays a role in lowering cortisol levels in the body. So something as simple as interacting with your fluffy friend can help to reduce stress, make you feel relaxed, and shift your focus from the negative to more positive thoughts. 

So how is this relevant to golf? Well, on dog-friendly golf courses, your beloved pet can be a trusty anchor, improving your mood and reminding you not to take things too seriously. Let’s dive into it in more detail! 

A Furry Caddie for Your Mental Game 

Every golfer knows that the mental game is just as important as the act of swinging your clubs! If you’re not in the zone and able to focus on your game, your tranquil game of golf has the potential to turn into an annoying few hours of beating yourself up for bad shots. 

If your golf course is pet-friendly, taking your pooch along for your round can be a great buffer. If you hit a bad shot, turn around and give them a cuddle before walking to your ball to try again. That little hit of oxytocin might be all you need to get over one poor shot and play a better one the next time. 

Of course, your dog will only be able to join you on the course if they’re well-trained! You can’t have Fido breaking free and chasing down other players’ golf balls… So make sure your pet is trained and leashed. 

Beyond the Walk: A Companion in Every Swing 

Golfers often play to relax, but the challenging nature of the game can sometimes lead to the opposite effect. Having your trusty companion along for the ride can take a bit of that stress off and remind you to have fun with it! 

A fluffy presence can help you to maintain a balance between competitive spirit and the fundamental reason many choose to golf—to unwind and enjoy. Use your furry buddy to help you ground yourself between each shot and between holes. 

Just a few minutes of cuddling before you tee off on each hole can make a world of difference. Kneel down and give your pup some love while you contemplate how you’re going to hit your drive. That oxytocin will flow, lowering cortisol and helping you to make smarter decisions. 

By the time you stand up and get ready for your shot, the stress you were feeling after the previous hole will have diminished, and you’ll have a clear mind and a new purpose! 

The Empathetic Listener After a Tough Round 

Not allowed to take your dog on the golf course with you? Or is your pooch not well-trained enough yet to be a good boy/girl and not chase every golf ball? They can still help you unwind and destress after a tough round. 

Any golfer knows that not every round ends with a sense of accomplishment. Some days, you’ll come off the course feeling like a champ, but other days, you’ll feel like throwing your golf clubs away! 

On days when the swings just don’t go your way, and frustration is high, a dog’s non-judgmental and comforting presence can be a comfort. They don’t care about your scorecard! Their unconditional love and support are constant, providing a sense of reassurance and a reminder that there’s always another round to look forward to. 

Building a Community, One Wag at a Time 

Dogs aren’t only the perfect anti-stress tool for individual golfers. At golf clubs that allow dogs, they can connect players through shared interactions and experiences! You might make a new friend or two who you’d never spoken to before just because they couldn’t resist giving your dog a pat. 

You also never know what inspiration and motivation your pup might bring to other golfers on the course. Someone else could be having a bad round, and your pooch could be the thing that cheers them up and improves their game. 

Just make sure your pup is well socialized before you take them into the clubhouse or anywhere they’ll be in contact with people. You don’t want an over-enthusiastic stranger giving your pup a fright and ending up with a bite. 

The Mutual Benefit: Happy Golfer, Happy Dog 

The relationship between a golfer and their dog is a two-way street. Golfers benefit from reduced stress and a bit of extra goofy joy during their round and their day. Your pup relishes the companionship, physical activity, and added mental stimulation that they get from being out on the golf course with their beloved parent. 

Golf and dogs might not seem a likely match, but if you love both, you can easily make them both a part of your day and enjoy more relaxation and less stress! 

About the Author 

Jordan Fuller is a retired golfer and businessman. When he’s not on the course working on his own game or mentoring young golfers, he writes in-depth articles for his website, Golf Influence.

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