Dogs Have A Calming Effect On Kids, According To New Study
As if we needed another reason to love dogs ❤️
Dogs have the uncanny ability to keep us calm. And if you’ve got both kids and a dog at home, you likely already know this.
The physical and mental health benefits of being a dog parent have long been established (including possibly helping you live longer). But it’s a dog's calming ability that really helps set a tone and can be such a huge benefit to families.
And now there’s more evidence to support this.
In a new study published last week, researchers in the United Kingdom discovered that school children who had twice-weekly sessions with a therapy dog and his professional handler had significantly lower levels of cortisol (the body’s stress hormone), which they measured through saliva samples. Their doggie hangout time was found to be more effective when compared to guided relaxation sessions for the same amount of time over a month-long period.
This news seems particularly relevant given the events of the last few years, at a time when children are more stressed out than ever.
“Our study shows, 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,” Kerstin Meints, one of the study’s researchers and a professor in developmental psychology at the University of Lincoln in England, said in the study’s report.
While researchers were quick to point out that this study specifically looked at canine therapy in schools versus regular interactions children may have with dogs at home, let’s face it — dog parents already know the many positives of raising children around dogs.
I’ve seen the benefits firsthand in my own home, with not only the increased responsibility and physical activity that comes with having a pet, but the ability our dog has to calm my kids if they’re feeling stressed out or anxious about something. A little time cuddling with Lambeau, our golden retriever, and they’re good as new again.
While I can only speak to my own experience — and certainly children do need to learn how to act appropriately around dogs (and vice versa) — researchers and mental health professionals agree that there’s 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 already know that dogs have an incredible ability to make people feel better, a little scientific research to back it up never hurts.
Dogs: We really don’t deserve them.