Stress relief in seven minutes

Short, unstructured session with a dog reduces anxiety levels in students, and improves their mood

Source: Hal Herzog 
Psychology Today: Animals and Us  Nov 19 2015

Molly Crossman and her team from Yale University have carried out research to investigate the effect of interacting with a dog, a mixed-breed therapy dog called Finn, on students' anxiety levels and mood. A total of 67 students were divided into three groups. One group saw pictures of the dog, the second group interacted with the dog, and the third group was a control group which neither saw, nor interacted with the dog. All the students were tested for anxiety and mood both before and after the interaction, picture viewing, or period of waiting. Only the group which interacted with the dog showed a significant change. The change involved both an improvement in anxiety levels and in mood, and this was true whatever the level of the students' previous experience with dogs. There are still unanswered questions, such as how long such an improvement is likely to last. The research will be published in Anthrozoos journal under the title of 'Brief unstructured interaction with a dog reduces stress'.