Animal Therapy Is Basically Medicine For Your Mind, According To A New Study

If you're looking for some extra lovin' these days, some Canadian researchers say animal therapy could be the pick-me-up you need.

According to new research from the University of British Columbia Okanagan, direct touch with a dog is proven to increase your well-being.

Over 200 undergrads took part in a study aimed at helping them find ways to reduce their stress as schools return to in-person learning this fall.

And as you may have guessed, having the chance to cuddle and love on a canine companion offered a major mood boost.

How did the study work?

The study was led by Dr. John-Tyler Binfet, an associate professor in the School of Education, and focused not just on how the use of therapy dogs can improve someone's mood, but what type of interactions with a four-legged friend provide the greatest benefits.

"We know that spending time with therapy dogs is beneficial but we didn't know why," said Binfet.

The participating students provided researchers with reports of their own well-being, specifically measuring their ideas of happiness, social connectedness, and stress, to name a few.

Students either took part in touch or no-touch canine interaction, or they spent time with a dog handler but with no therapy dog present.

Researchers discovered that physical contact with a dog, like tummy rubs, ear scratches and nuzzles, was proven to provide students with the highest overall mood boost.

"I'd encourage [students] to take advantage of the therapy dog visitation program offered. And once there — be sure to make time for a canine cuddle," said Binfet. "That's a surefire way to reduce stress."

This article’s cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.

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