Every dog lover knows that spending time with your dog makes you smile. In fact, petting any dog is enough to brighten your day. However, the joy you feel around your loyal canine might be more than just a happy feeling. That’s because petting a dog actually has a positive impact on your brain!
There have been lots of studies and experiments to prove that dogs are good for our health. Whether it’s about helping our hearts or our emotions, it’s no secret that life is better with a dog around. So, it just makes sense that there would be plenty of benefits to petting a dog.
How Can Petting a Dog Affect You?
Petting a dog doesn’t just make us feel good, but it also impacts our brains. A study proved that our brains interpret different types of touches in different ways. This is because our brains can categorize types of touches into 3 significant groups: “pleasant”, “neutral”, and “unpleasant”. Of course, petting a dog falls under the pleasant category.
Pleasant feelings on your skin relate to the positive emotions you feel, which is why you probably feel so happy when you’re petting or cuddling with your pup. Our brains can react positively to anything that feels good to the touch, but petting dogs happens to be one of the most pleasant feelings for most humans.
People need the sense of touch in their lives. “Pleasant” touches are what help us through life and benefit us the most. Oftentimes, human touch is best for us, but the touch of an adorable dog can also have the same results. Petting a dog can fulfil the need for human interactions because it often causes the same optimistic feelings that human touch does.
When we pet dogs, we feel a positive sensation that’s actually related to our brains, specifically an area of the brain called the anterior cingulate cortex. This part of the brain is responsible for emotional processing. Therefore, when our skin interacts with something enjoyable, our brains respond with positive emotions as a result. So, not only is petting dogs an enjoyable experience, but there’s scientific proof as to how it can positively affect our brains.
Why is Petting a Dog So Positive?
Many dog lovers think of their own dogs as their “fur babies”, which is a reason why they feel so close to them. When you pet your dog, you receive a small surge of dopamine and serotonin, which are compounds that induce positive feelings.
Even just gazing at your dog can release oxytocin, which is also known as the “cuddle hormone”. Oxytocin is actually the same hormone that’s responsible for the bond between a mother and her child, which explains why so many people feel so close to their dogs. Even just looking at pictures of your dog could release this cuddle hormone too.
When you pet your dog, it can also reduce your blood pressure and heart rate. This is why they make such great companions. Just petting them when you’re anxious can help you relax and focus better. Even just being close to your dog and feeling the emotional connection is good for your mental health.
Dogs are often trained as service dogs, therapy dogs, and emotional support dogs because of the positive effects they have on people. These dogs are trained to help make the world a better place. Service dogs and emotional support dogs can help with their handler’s happiness while therapy dogs can spread positivity to lots of different people. There’s no denying that petting dogs just makes the world a happier place because of all the benefits!
The Everyday Benefits of Petting Dogs
Petting your dog overall just reduces stress and makes you and your dog calmer. Touching is a way of bonding, so the more you pet your dog, the closer the two of you will feel. The breed of the dog doesn’t matter in this situation because all dogs can have these positive effects on humans. Never take petting a dog for granted because even the smallest forms of contact with your pup can affect your brain positively and help reduce your stress.
While our own dogs are usually the best stress relievers, research has proved that petting any dog can help you become calmer and more relaxed. A 2012 study looked at the effects of a therapy dog on college students. The results revealed that the college students that interacted with the therapy dog before their exams overall had lower stress levels than the students that didn’t pet the dog beforehand. So, even if you don’t have a dog of your own, you could greatly benefit from petting a friend or family member’s dog.
A 2010 study also covered a similar topic. The participants were exposed to a stressful situation, and were split into different groups. All the groups except for one were given an animal to pet. The results proved that petting all animals, even non-furry animals like turtles, caused calming feelings. Even if you’re not an animal lover, the results seem to appear the same. That’s because the feeling of interacting with a friendly animal makes people feel so at ease.
The benefits of petting a dog can easily make anyone’s life better. Even if you don’t have a dog of your own, you should find a dog that you can spend time with when you’re feeling stressed or anxious. As long as you have a loving furry friend to spend time with, that’s what matters! Life is just so much happier when there are dogs to pet.