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Fostering reduces stress levels in dogs: Study

Research team tracked the stress level of 207 dogs.

Agency, April 7, 2019:  Is your canine friend nervous? Sleepovers and foster care homes could help reduce their stress level, says a new study.

The findings, published in the journal PeerJ, indicate that short-term fostering temporarily reduces cortisol (stress hormone) levels and increases rest in shelter dogs.“We are trying to improve the lives of shelter dogs by helping them find loving homes,” said co-author Clive Wynne, Professor at the Arizona State University in the US.

According to the lead researcher, Lisa Gunter from the varsity, the sleepovers were like a weekend away from work as they provided a short break from the stress of living in a shelter.

Sleepover or fostering refers to bringing in a dog at home for a while with the goal of nurturing them. For the study, the research team tracked 207 dogs’ stress level by measuring cortisol before, during and after sleepovers.

Even though the five participating shelters were very different, the cortisol levels for all the dogs decreased during a sleepover. When the dogs returned to the shelter, their cortisol levels were the same as before, the team said. “It was an open question if it would be stressful for dogs to come back to the shelter after being away for a weekend but because of this study, we know a sleepover is a very welcome break,” said Debbie McKnight, Vice President at the Arizona Humane Society (AHS) in the US.

AHS was one of the five shelters that participated in the study. Because sleepovers reduced the dogs cortisol levels and increased their time at rest, shelters that do not currently have short-term foster programmes should give sleepovers a try, Gunter suggested.

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Feeling Stressed, Then You Probably Need to Cuddle Your Pooch

Cuddling dog for just a few minutes can reduce your cortisol levels.

Washington, July 18, 2019: The study found that those who were allowed 10 minutes of hands-on interaction with cats and dogs had lower cortisol levels after the petting sessions..

A recent study conducted by Washington State University scientists found that cuddling and stroking a cat or dog for just a few minutes can reduce your cortisol levels.“Just 10 minutes can have a significant impact,” Patricia Pendry, an associate professor in WSU’s Department of Human Development, said in a statement. “Students in our study that interacted with cats and dogs had a significant reduction in cortisol, a major stress hormone.”

These findings were published in AERA Open, an open access journal published by the American Educational Research Association, last month and are just starting to make the news this week.For this study, inspired by the “Pet the Stress Away” programs across college campuses, the scientists had 249 college students, separated into four groups, interact with cats and dogs in different ways.

The first group was immediately allowed to lovingly handle and play with cats and dogs for 10 minutes in a casual setting, while the second group had to watch others play with the animals. The third group watched a slideshow featuring images of the animals involved in the study and the fourth group was “waitlisted” and was told they would be allowed to see the animals after quietly waiting for 10 minutes without any stimuli.

Salivary samples were taken from all the participants both before their animal interactions and after. The study found that those who had direct contact with the animals showed significantly less cortisol levels than the other groups, even when members of the other groups started the study with low cortisol levels.

“We already knew that students enjoy interacting with animals, and that it helps them experience more positive emotions,” Pendry said. “What we wanted to learn was whether this exposure would help students reduce their stress in a less subjective way. And it did, which is exciting because the reduction of stress hormones may, over time, have significant benefits for physical and mental health.” According to Washington State University, this “first study that has demonstrated reductions in students’ cortisol levels during a real‑life intervention rather than in a laboratory setting.” To further their research, Pendry and her team are examining a four-week-long animal-assisted stress prevention program, in hopes they can discover how cat and dog petting can provide log-tern solutions to those suffering from high stress levels.

(Story by People)

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Dog Therapy is Preventing Students From Dropping out

Studies show spending time with canines lowers the stress levels. 

Washington, July 5, 2019: With increasing pressure and competition, stress is taking toll on students. Consequently many of them are opting out of educational institution. In a bid to lower the dropping out rate universities are using dog therapy to heal the stressed students.

Now, scientists say they have objective evidence to support the use of dogs. Patricia Pendry, from Washington State University, said her study showed “soothing” sessions with dogs could lessen the negative impact of stress. As per the report of BBC, the study of more than 300 undergraduates had found weekly hour-long sessions with dogs brought to the university by professional handlers had made stressed students at “high risk of academic failure” or dropping out “feel relaxed and accepted”, helping them to concentrate, learn and remember information, she said.

“Students most at risk, such as those with mental health issues, showed the most benefit,” said Dr Pendry . It has also become more common in the UK, with Buckingham, University College London, Cambridge, Nottingham Trent, London Metropolitan and Swansea among those deploying dogs. The University of Middlesex has even put “canine teaching assistants” on to the staff, to stop lonely students dropping out. Students appeared to “feel calmer and more socially supported”, giving them more confidence in their studies.




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Beware! Your Stress is Passing to Your Dog, Says Study

Researchers focused on 58 people who own border collies or Shetland sheepdogs.
Stockholm, June 9, 2019: A dog and his parents relation goes far beyond of being a loyal friend. If a recent study is to be believed,  when dog owners go through a stressful period, they’re not alone in feeling the pain, their fur babies feel it too, a new study suggests. Dog owners experiencing long bouts of stress can transfer it to their dogs as per the recent study published in Scientific Reports.

In the study titled “Long-term stress levels are synchronized in dogs and their owners.” swedish researchers focused on 58 people who own border collies or Shetland sheepdogs. They examined hair from the dog owners and their dogs, looking at the concentrations of a hormone called cortisol, a chemical released into the bloodstream and absorbed by hair follicles in response to stress. As reported by media, Depression, excessive physical exercise and unemployment are just a few examples of stress that can influence the amount of cortisol found in your hair, said Lina Roth of Linkoping University in Sweden.

Roth and her team found that the patterns of cortisol levels in the hair of dog owners closely matached that found in their dogs in both winter and summer months, indicating their stress levels were in sync. She thinks the owners are influencing the dogs rather than the other way around because several human personality traits appear to affect canine cortisol levels. Many other factors could affect a person or dog’s stress levels and possibly even dampen them, she said. Buttner said cortisol levels don’t necessarily indicate “bad” stress. They instead can indicate a good experience like getting ready to go for a walk, she said. Roth and her team plan to investigate whether other dog breeds will react to their owners the same way. The researchers don’t know what causes the synchronization in cortisol levels between humans and their pups. But a hint might lie in the fact that the link is stronger with competitive dogs than in pet pooches. The bond formed between owner and competitive dogs during training may increase the canines’ emotional reliance on their owners, she said. That in turn could increase the degree of synchronization.But why do people influence their dogs rather than vice versa? Perhaps people are “a more central part of the dog’s life, whereas we humans also have other social networks,” Roth said in an email.

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Want to be Stress Free at Work? Bring Your Dog To Office, Says Research

, Felines have roughly the same stress-relieving benefits as pooches.

London, June 1, 2019: It has been said that the “Best Therapist has fur and four legs” and dogs are indeed man’s best friend and amazing therapist. If a recent researched is to be believed, bringing your dogs to work can help you to keep yourself stress free.

“It’s definitely good for the work atmosphere to have a dog in the office,” Marie-José Enders, who studies the relationship between animals and humans at England’s Open University, recently, told Business Insider.“Not only does your cortisol level drop when you stroke a dog; you also produce more of the hormone oxytocin, which makes you feel more relaxed and happy,” Enders added.

If you’re a cat lover, don’t panic, felines have roughly the same stress-relieving benefits as pooches! Behavioral psychologist Lotte Spijkerman went on to tell Business Insider that both animals can “reduce stress and increase productivity, because they interact with you of their own accord. When they pop over to your work station, it’s a good reminder that you might need to take a break,” Spijkerman explained.

A 2012 study performed by by Virginia Commonwealth University reached a similar conclusion. As part of the study, researchers measured saliva samples from several groups of employees: those who had brought their dogs to work, those who had not, and those who did not have any pets. The results showed that while all three of the groups had similar levels of “baseline” stress, at the end of the day, employees who did not bring their dogs to work had significantly higher stress level. Additionally, on days when employees did not bring their dogs to work, the “owner’s stress increased thought the day, mirroring the pattern of the NODOG group.”

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