In anticipation of International Dog Day to be celebrated on Thursday, researchers from the University of Okanagan (UBC Okanagan) in Canada have found that cuddling and contact with a dog leads to a significant improvement in overall well.being.
The study, recently published in the journal Anthrozoös, sought to examine which interactions with a person’s best friend are most beneficial. For this purpose, 284 undergraduate students were recruited, who were randomly divided into three different groups: one allowed physical contact with the dog, the other did not allow contact while the third included recreation with a dog trainer, but without a dog.
Students were asked to report on their overall well.being before and after each interaction. The report included perceptions regarding personal prosperity, happiness, stress, integration into the student community, longing and feelings of loneliness.
The researchers found that students from all groups experienced some improvement, regardless of their initial level of well.being, but only those who were in direct contact with the dogs reported a significant improvement in all welfare measures.
In light of the findings, the researchers advised students, ahead of the upcoming school year, to take advantage of the dog adoption programs offered at various universities as a “safe way” to lower stress levels during school, when at any given moment seek to make time for dog cuddling.