Bristol dad sets up Dudes & Dogs walking group to help men open up

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‘Let’s go for a walk’ is much easier to say than ‘let’s have a chat’.

Bristol Post reports that a Bristol dad has set up a dog walking group to help men open up about their emotions.

Rob Osman has in the past struggled with anxiety and depression and set up Dudes & Dogs to create a space where men could relax and talk about how they feel.

The dad-of-one – who also suffered with social anxiety from his early teens, especially around girls, which caused him to throw up – found walking his dog Mali, a Hungarian Vizsla, was good for his mental health. He is now hoping to help others by encouraging them to join his walks.

“The aim of the group is to create an environment where people can relax and drop their barriers,” the 38-year-old said. “It (walking a dog) is a good way to do so because you do not have to look at each other in the eye and are in an open space. “It is at their pace and there is no expectation for them to have to talk – it could be that they just listen the first few times.” Mr Osman realised that saying “let’s go for a walk” was a much easier way of say “let’s have a chat”, which some people may find difficult to say.

The dog owner said participants were also able to get moments of relief and joy through interacting with the dog. So far, the group has only held walks in Bristol but, as the numbers increase, Mr Osman is hoping to train more facilitators – known as “dog dudes” – and expand to other areas such as south Wales. Everyone is welcome and no dog is needed to join the walk, said Mr Osman. “The dog dude will facilitate the walk and will have a dog with them,” he continued.

Mr Osman wants to show other men they are not alone and that many men struggle, adding he would love to create a movement similar to Movember.

Mr Osman, of Ashton Vale, quit his job as a business developer manager a year ago to be a stay-at-home dad, knowing he wanted to do something related to counselling at the same time. He started looking at local support groups but none was offering the support he wanted. Then Dudes & Dogs started with a video he shared on International Men’s Day on Facebook.

Since then, he has shared several videos on his Facebook page Dudes & Dogs where he talks about his emotions, how he was struggling or how his day had been. Above all, he would talk about the importance of talking and how good it is. For example, he also did a video from places which have helped him like the barber’s chair.

“I am quite an emotional guy and since I have opened about my feelings and emotions my life has got better,” he continued. “I started to realise what really helps me is walking my dog and spending time in the fresh air. “Mali is a four-legged antidepressant. “She makes me go outside and go into the woods to play. “She makes me change my mood and I could not have asked for a better companion. “She is key to the whole thing.” The group meets at 10.15 am every Saturday by the Yer Tiz trail entrance of the Leigh Woods. The walks are free to join.


(Story source: Bristol Post) 

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