Ask the Expert: Do Dogs Help Relieve Stress?
If you’ve ever been pulled out of a funk by hanging with a happy dog, you’re not alone. Our behavior expert Dr. Jill says that dogs have been scientifically proven to improve the moods of humans. According to her, “numerous scientific studies have shown health and well-being benefits that result from spending time with a dog.” Dr. Jill shared the specifics of some of these studies, and suddenly we’re wondering how we can sign up to hang with puppies all day in the name of science!
Dogs help insecure kids
Sometimes children are more comfortable interacting with animals than they are with other humans. Such was the case in a 2012 study that found that boys with insecurity or attachment issues were less stressed when hanging out with a friendly dog. The findings from this study helped implement further use of dogs in schools and in special education.
Dogs make college less ruff
As far as schools go, dogs make things better even when students don’t have special needs. A 2015 study concluded that college students experienced positive mood changes after spending just five minutes with a dog. So the next time you have writer’s block or other learning issues, take a quick doggy break to clear your head.
Add K9 to your 9-5
Sitting at a desk all day can be a recipe for frustration. That’s why it makes sense that a 2013 study found that walking a dog during the workday is really good for you. The study found that not only does the physical activity involved relieve stress, but walking with a dog can also lead to more positive social interactions.
Old people learn new tricks
The benefits of spending time with a pooch aren’t just limited to school-aged kids or working adults. Seniors who spend time with dogs experience a decrease in cortisol, which is a hormone related to stress. Getting doggy face time is also beneficial for seniors in nursing homes because the dogs encourage them to smile more and also to be more present socially. One 2009 study even recommended that nursing home residents visit with a dog six days a week as a way to help counter depression and loneliness.
Together these studies show that dogs help improve our lives and facilitate positive health and well-being. So take a break right now and hang with some dogs − doctor’s orders! Leave your questions for Dr. Jill in the comments.
About Dr. Jill
Dr. Jill Villarreal lives and breathes all things pets. A doctor of biology, behavior and neuroscience (with a certificate in animal behavior), Jill is senior manager of pet sensory and perception insights over at Big Heart Pet Brands.
Explore more articles
7 Things That Can Stress Out Your Pet
Keeping the Muddy Paws off of Your Floor
With a little planning, your home can remain clean(ish) even on rainy spring days.