How Dogs Boost Emotional Health: A Study

Written by Camilla Jessen

Mar.15 - 2024 5:06 PM CET

Interaction with dogs can benefit a person's emotional health. It enhances brain waves associated with rest and relaxation.

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Interacting with dogs can significantly improve a person's emotional well-being by enhancing brain waves related to relaxation and rest. This was the finding of a study conducted by South Korean researchers and published in the journal PLOS One, as reported by CNN.

The study aimed to discover how different types of interactions with dogs influence people's moods. Researchers measured the brain activity of participants and asked them to report their feelings during the experiment.

Thirty adults around the age of 28 participated in the study, which took place in pet salons and a dog grooming school. To reduce external stimuli, participants were first asked to sit quietly and look at a wall for three minutes.

Participants then engaged in eight activities with a four-year-old trained poodle, including introductions, playing, feeding, massaging, grooming, taking photos, cuddling, and walking the dog.

Throughout these activities, researchers monitored the participants' brain waves using an electroencephalogram (EEG) for three minutes each time. In between tasks, participants filled out questionnaires about their emotional state.

The Findings

The results showed that different activities had varying impacts on brain waves. Playing with and walking the dog increased alpha oscillations, linked to calmness and relaxation. This type of brain activity is known to boost memory and lower stress levels.

Activities like grooming, playing, and gentle massaging raised beta-band oscillations, which are related to heightened attention and concentration. Furthermore, participants reported feeling significantly less depressed, stressed, and fatigued after spending time with the poodle.

The researchers noted that the participants' general affinity for animals, despite not all owning pets, might have influenced the study's outcomes. "Animal therapy can be very useful for people who enjoy being around animals," said study co-author Onyu Yu.

Further research involving more participants is necessary to conclusively verify these findings.

In related research, it was found that dog owners tend to be more attentive to their pets compared to cat owners.