Playing with Dogs Helps People Concentrate and Relax, Study Says

2 min read

March 14, 2024 -- A new study gets specific about the health benefits of interacting with a dog. The study found that walking a dog relaxes people; brushing a dog improves concentration; and playing with a pooch does both.

In the study, 30 adults wore headsets with electrodes that measured their brain waves while they interacted with a 4-year-old poodle named Aro. The adults participated in eight activities with the dog, and each activity lasted three minutes. These activities were: meeting, playing, feeding, massaging, grooming, photographing, hugging, and walking. Study participants completed surveys after each activity about how they felt emotionally.

“Previous studies of the potential benefits of animal interactions often take a holistic approach, comparing people’s mood or hormone levels before and after spending time with a dog,” Onyoo Yoo, the study’s author and a researcher at Konkuk University in South Korea, told NBC News. “It is a significant finding that engaging in certain activities with dogs can increase specific brain activity.” 

Participants said they were less stressed, tired, and depressed after each activity.

Alpha brain waves grew stronger when participants played with Aro and walked her. Alpha waves indicate stability and relaxation, and the results suggest better rest and relaxation were experienced by the participants.

“Beta brain waves, which are associated with attention and concentration, became stronger when participants played with Aro, brushed her or gave her a gentle massage — a sign that people's concentration improved without an increase in stress,” NBC News reported.

Massaging the dog, giving her treats, and hugging her also improved participants’ moods. Participants said they also were comfortable while walking Aro and felt relaxed while massaging her.