Study Shows That Petting a Therapy Dog Is Beneficial for Mental Health

A study done by researchers from the University of British Columbia has reported health benefits from petting a therapy dog.

According to Dr. John Tyler Binfet, a director of the Building Academic Retention Through K-9S (BARKS) and an associate professor at the School of Education, studies have previously shown that therapy dogs positively affect wellbeing. Reduced anxiety and stress levels have been reported by people who own dogs. However, little research has been conducted into what kind of interaction with dogs works best. This study changes that.

How researchers conducted the study

The researchers took 284 college students and asked them to fill a questionnaire on their wellbeing to reach this conclusion.  They were questioned on their self-perceptions of flourishing, social connectedness, negative and positive affect, integration into the college, loneliness, community, homesickness, and stress.

The researchers then split them into three groups. They asked one group to interact with a therapy dog without touching it. The second could do both while the last only interacted with the dog handler.

The group asked to interact but not touch the dogs showed improvements in their wellbeing. However, those who were allowed to touch the therapy dog had more benefits.

How interacting with dogs reduces stress levels

Past studies have looked into how interaction with animals reduces stress. Petting a dog can reduce the level of cortisol, a stress hormone. Socializing with an animal, on the other hand, increases the levels of oxytocin. This fact not only refers to dogs but other pets as well.

Physicians often recommend therapy pets to patients with post-traumatic stress disorder. Petting animals can reduce symptoms caused by the illness by 84% and the need for medication by 40%.

Dr. Binfet advises students to find a therapy dog program that will lower their stress levels. As students return to in-person learning, they are bound to face increased amounts of stress. Parents and teachers are also dealing with stress. Schools should try to offer these services to their students as they become available to help them manage their stress.

Program organizers can take therapy dogs to campuses. The organizers should consider the ratio of students to dogs.

Share the Post:

Related Posts

This Headline Grabs Visitors’ Attention

A short description introducing your business and the services to visitors.