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Playing with dogs could make you happier, study finds – ABC News

Spending time with Fido might be good for your health.
If petting a poodle or playing fetch with a Labrador retriever is your go-to form of stress relief, you might be on to something, according to a new, small study in the Plos One journal.
South Korean researchers studied 15 women and 15 men between their 20s and 40s, some of whom had pets and some who didn't, according to the study that was published Wednesday. For the experiment, the study participants met with, played with, fed, massaged, groomed, took photos of, hugged, and walked a 4-year-old standard poodle, taking at least three minutes to do each activity. They surveyed the various moods of study participants and measured their brain waves during these activities.
The scientists found that these interactions appeared to stimulate brain waves leading to a positive effect and suggested that people tended to be more relaxed and focused after contact with the dog.
"This study demonstrated that specific dog activities could activate stronger relaxation, emotional stability, attention, concentration, and creativity by facilitating increased brain activity," the researchers wrote in their study abstract. "In addition, interactions with dogs could decrease stress and induce positive emotional responses."

Susan Burrows, a program coordinator for Rainbow Animal Assisted Therapy of Morton Grove, Illinois, told "Good Morning America" that spending time with dogs has multiple benefits.

"There is a reduction in pain. There is stress release. There may be a feeling of less anxiety and comfort putting your arm around a dog, petting a dog, whether it's a therapy dog or your family pet. [It] can relieve that kind of stress," Burrows said.
The researchers acknowledged their study sample size was small but reasoned that "animal interaction activities, such as playing, walking, massaging, and grooming dogs, have a positive effect by facilitating increased brain activity in healthy participants" and that playing with a dog can have "an affirmative effect on both relaxation and concentration."
They also concluded that "dogs can decrease human stress and induce positive emotional responses."


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