As if we needed another reason to love dogs ❤️
Dogs have an extraordinary capacity to calm us down. And if you have both children and a dog at home, you’re probably already aware of this.
Being a dog parent has long been linked to improved physical and mental wellbeing (including possibly helping you live longer). However, it is a dog’s soothing capacity that sets the tone and may be such a big asset to families.
And now there’s additional data to back this up.
Researchers in the United Kingdom revealed that school students who had twice-weekly sessions with a therapy dog and his professional handler had considerably reduced levels of cortisol (the body’s stress hormone), as assessed by saliva samples, in a new study released last week. When compared to guided relaxation sessions for the same length of time over a month, their doggy hangout time was proven to be more helpful.
This discovery seems especially pertinent considering recent events, at a time when youngsters are more worried than ever.
“Our study demonstrates, for the first time, that dog-assisted interventions can indeed lead to lower stress in children, with and without special educational needs, over a typical school term,” said Kerstin Meints, one of the study’s researchers and a professor of developmental psychology at the University of Lincoln in England, in the study’s report.
While researchers were eager to point out that this study focused on canine therapy in schools rather than normal interactions children may have with dogs at home, let’s face it – dog owners already know the numerous benefits of growing children around dogs.
I’ve experienced the benefits directly in my own family, not just with the added responsibility and physical exercise that comes with owning a pet, but also with our dog’s capacity to soothe my children when they’re concerned or anxious about anything. They’re as good as new after some snuggling with Lambeau, our golden retriever.
While I can only speak from my own experience, and children do need to learn how to behave around dogs (and vice versa), researchers and mental health professionals agree that there is a real need for more research into how animals can help children reduce stress and develop socially and emotionally.
While dog lovers and dog parents are well aware that dogs have a wonderful capacity to help people feel better, a little scientific evidence never hurts.