Human-animal interactions have been studied widely and while there are conflicting results, many pet owners believe what some studies have shown, which is that human-animal interactions have positive impacts including:
- More positive social behavior, interpersonal interactions, and mood;
- Lower stress-related measures such as cortisol, heart rate, and blood pressure;
- Less self-reported fear and anxiety;
- Stronger mental health; and
- Better physical health, specifically a lower likelihood of cardiovascular diseases.
While conclusive evidence is still being gathered, it is clear from experience that pets have a significant positive impact on our emotional, mental, and physical well-being. Some of the ways in which pets, including support therapy dogs, contribute to our wellness include:
- Dogs make us more social, which can contribute to our well-being.
- Dogs can make us feel less lonely, or depressed. They are our steadfast companions.
- Dogs can give us a sense of meaning or purpose. When we have to care for another living being, this responsibility can bring more meaning to our lives.
- Dogs get us out into nature. Nature is known to calm and soothe, and to bring us back into the present moment.
- Dogs help us practice mindfulness and encourage us to be fully present in the current moment — just as they are.
- Dogs can help relieve stress and provide loving support.
Even though the scientific basis for the physical and emotional benefits of having a dog is still being established, it is clear that dogs bring their owners a lot of happiness and joy — something that feels good but also contributes to better emotional and physical health.