Man Who Battled Depression Starts Dog Walking Program to Help Men Talk About Their Emotions

Rob Osman wants to continue the conversation about men's mental health.
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Rob Osman wanted to give men a space to talk about what they’re going through with his organization.

Having battled depression throughout his life, Rob Osman wanted to give men a space to talk about what they’re going through. So, this year the 38-year-old began organizing dog walks where men can discuss what’s on their mind, and Dudes and Dogs Walk and Talk was born. 

The organization, which is located in Bristol, England, pairs men with a trained volunteer and a dog they can walk and talk with.

"I'm a pretty emotional guy," Osman told "I cry pretty easy. … I'd spent 35 years of my life trying to persuade everyone and show them that I wasn't that person, despite the fact it made me very uncomfortable." 

When Osman got honest with who he was, he said it changed his life. 

"I got a dog, I was going on a dog walk, but when you're on a dog walk you end up talking to people and you can't help it because that's what dogs do," Osman said. "I realized just how beneficial these dog walks had been to me."

He wants to provide alternative options for men to take care of their mental health in a space that may be less intimidating for some. Osman knows that while some men may never go to therapy, they might go for a dog walk.

The men who run the individual walks aren't counselors, but Osman said they are trained to provide a safe space for men to open up. Some men just come to listen, Osman said, while others share in ways they never have before. 

“We have had guys come on the walk who have been through some horrendous stuff and they have never had therapy, they've never been to a couch, but they've come on this walk, and they've talked,” Osman said. “Sometimes we talk about suicide as well and people's own personal feelings around themselves and their worth.”

Each walk is about an hour and usually includes six men and one trained volunteer with a dog. 

Osman hopes that his work not only helps men, but continues to highlight the importance of men’s mental health. 

"There's this idea of what manliness is. … And we're not very good at just sitting down and talking,” Osman said. “Women are really good at getting together getting things off their chest and feeling better for it.  Blokes can learn from that so much, and we are getting better.”