Study reveals dogs can relieve stress, improve concentration in humans

Engaging with dogs through playful interactions or watching their endearing videos on social media could indicate a beneficial practice. 

A recent study published in the journal PLOS One suggests that such activities might enhance individuals' brainwave patterns linked to rest and relaxation, as evidenced by neurological assessments.

For the study, researchers focused on discerning the impact of specific activities on mood, rather than merely general interactions with dogs. This was achieved through a combination of objective measurements of brain activity and subjective assessments of participants' emotions.

30 healthy adults, around the age of 28, were recruited from pet salons and a dog grooming school in Seongnam, South Korea, during May and June 2022.

In a subdued environment within a local grooming academy, each participant engaged in eight activities with a 4-year-old, well-trained, female standard poodle owned by the study’s principal investigator. These activities encompassed meeting, playing, feeding, massaging, grooming, photographing, hugging, and walking the dog.

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(File: boytsov / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

Prior to commencing the activities, participants sat and gazed at the wall for three minutes to minimize potential external influences. The authors recorded participants’ brain waves during each activity via electroencephalogram tests (EEGs) for three minutes.

EEGs are noninvasive tests that measure brain electrical activity using small metal discs called electrodes affixed to the scalp. 

Researchers found that various activities yielded different impacts on participants' brain waves.

Playing and walking with a dog notably amplified the intensity of alpha-band oscillations, commonly indicating a state of stability and relaxation. This type of brainwave activity correlates with enhanced memory function and diminished mental stress, as outlined in the study.

Engaging in grooming, play, and gentle massaging of the dog corresponded with heightened beta-band oscillations, typically linked to increased attention and concentration. Moreover, participants reported feeling significantly less depressed, stressed, and exhausted following interaction with the poodle.

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