New study reveals the therapeutic benefits of spending time with dogs.

In a groundbreaking study published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE on March 13, 2024, researchers from Konkuk University in South Korea have uncovered the myriad benefits of quality time spent with dogs. Led by Onyoo Yoo and colleagues, the study delved into how interactions with dogs can alleviate stress levels and enhance brain wave activity associated with relaxation and concentration.

Unlike previous research that provided broad assessments of mood or hormone levels, this study focused on analyzing the specific effects of various activities, such as playing, grooming, and feeding, on participants’ well-being.

Thirty adult participants engaged in eight different activities with a well-trained dog, ranging from playing with toys to taking photos. Electroencephalography (EEG) electrodes measured participants’ brain wave activity during these interactions, while subjective emotional states were recorded immediately afterward.

The results unveiled significant positive effects on participants’ mood and brain wave patterns. Activities like playing and walking with the dog induced an increase in alpha-band oscillations in the brain, indicative of relaxed wakefulness. On the other hand, grooming, massaging, and playing led to heightened beta-band oscillation strength, associated with increased concentration. Overall, participants reported feeling less fatigued, depressed, and stressed following these dog-related activities.

While some participants did not own pets themselves, their affinity for animals likely influenced their eagerness to participate, potentially introducing bias into the findings. Nonetheless, the study underscores the potential for targeted animal-assisted interventions in healthcare and educational settings, based on the specific physiological effects observed.

As the field of animal-assisted interventions continues to evolve, studies like this one provide crucial insights for developing tailored programs aimed at promoting well-being and reducing stress. This research sheds new light on the therapeutic benefits of interactions with dogs, further emphasizing the importance of incorporating such activities into various aspects of daily life.