There aren’t many people who can resist the cute and earnest face of a loving dog or reaching out to pet their soft, fluffy fur. And few people need to be told that time spent with their loyal furry friends can make even the worst day seem bearable. However, extensive research has given scientific proof to what many of us have already known. Pets have the remarkable ability to reduce levels of stress and anxiety, and also give comfort to their humans who may be experiencing the effects of those agitating feelings.
A Washington State University study, led by Dr. Patricia Pendry, has shown that even just 10 minutes of petting dogs or cats can reduce stress levels. During the three-year-long study, they tested over 300 university students. Their findings show that those students who petted the provided therapy dogs were much calmer and performed better on their tests than those who had not participated in the weekly hour-long petting sessions.
“It’s a really powerful finding,” Dr. Pendry, explains. “Universities are doing a lot of great work trying to help students succeed academically, especially those who may be at risk due to a history of mental health issues or academic and learning issues. This study shows that traditional stress management approaches aren’t as effective for this population compared with programs that focus on providing opportunities to interact with therapy dogs.”
So, the results are in, and science now proves that dogs really are man’s best friend. And, university student or not, the truth is that all of us could use a little pet therapy every now and again.
A Washington State University study has shown that even just 10 minutes of petting dogs or cats can significantly reduce stress levels.