Study Finds Interacting with Dogs Reduces Stress and Anxiety Levels

by Lisa

A recent study suggests that spending time with dogs can significantly reduce stress and anxiety levels in individuals, according to findings published in the journal Plos One.

Researchers from Konkuk University in South Korea conducted the study, which involved scanning the brains of 30 participants while they engaged in various activities with a four-year-old poodle. The participants, consisting of 15 men and 15 women aged 20 and above, interacted with the “friendly and well-trained” female poodle through activities such as grooming, feeding, playing, massaging, photographing, hugging, and walking, each lasting approximately three minutes.


Using electroencephalogram (EEG) scans, the researchers observed changes in brain activity during the interactions. They found that activities such as playing and walking with the dog induced alpha brainwaves, indicating a state of relaxed wakefulness. On the other hand, grooming or massaging the poodle resulted in increased beta brainwaves, associated with heightened concentration.


The study’s authors concluded that these specific dog-related activities could lead to increased relaxation, emotional stability, attention, concentration, and creativity by stimulating brain activity.


Dr. Jacqueline Boyd, a senior lecturer in animal science at Nottingham Trent University, commented on the study’s findings, noting that while they may not be surprising to dog caregivers, having quantitative measurements of brain activity during interactions with dogs adds to our understanding of the human-dog relationship.


However, Dr. Boyd raised concerns about the study’s participant recruitment, suggesting that it may have been biased towards individuals already inclined to interact positively with dogs. She cautioned against generalizing the findings to all people and all dog interactions, noting the potential novelty effect of participating in a study with a friendly dog.

Nevertheless, Dr. Boyd emphasized that the study’s reporting of measured physiological responses during canine interactions suggests a consistent biological basis for human-dog interactions, which could be beneficial in therapeutic contexts.


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