Petting Dogs Boosts Thinking Skills

A recent research study of stressed-out college students found the simple act of petting therapy dogs proved to be more effective at enhancing thinking and planning skills than traditional stress-management programs.

The three-year Washington State University study, published in May in the journal AERA Open, randomly assigned students to four-week programs with different combinations of human-animal interaction and evidenced-based academic stress management, then measured their executive functioning.

The students who petted therapy dogs were more relaxed and, as a result, coped better with their personal stressors, and continued to show improvements up to six weeks after their program ended.

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