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Quality time with dogs can relieve stress, heighten concentration

A new study shows the specific effects on the brain of engaging in different types of activities with dogs.
Woman playing with dog holds up a toy
Posted at 2:06 PM, Mar 15, 2024

Spending quality time with dogs can have a positive impact on a person’s wellbeing.

More specifically, new research shows that time spent interacting with canines reduces stress levels and increases the power of brain waves associated with relaxation and concentration. This is according to a study published in the journal PLOS ONE, authored by Onyoo Yoo and other colleagues from Konkuk University in South Korea.

Researchers monitored the effects on adults who wore electroencephalography (EEG) electrodes to record electrical activity from their brains as they performed eight different activities with a dog — such as walking, feeding treats, grooming, playing with a toy, or taking pictures with the pooch.

While canine therapy is widely used in places like hospitals and schools, the study aimed to study the specific effects on the brain of each different dog activity.

Participants who played or walked the dog showed increased strength of alpha-band oscillations in the brain, which reflects a state of relaxed wakefulness. Those who groomed, gently massaged or played with the dog displayed higher levels of concentration.

The participants reported feeling "significantly less fatigued, depressed, and stressed after all dog-related activities," the study said.

Not all of the adults who participated in the study were dog owners. But researchers noted that results may be biased because of their willingness to participate.