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The Effects of Animals on Human Health and Well-Being

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Abstract

Substantial sums of money are invested annually in preventative medicine and therapeutic treatment for people with a wide range of physical and psychological health problems, sometimes to no avail. There is now mounting evidence to suggest that companion animals, such as dogs and cats, can enhance the health of their human owners and may thus contribute significantly to the health expenditure of our country. This paper explores the evidence that pets can contribute to human health and well-being. The article initially concentrates on the value of animals for short- and long-term physical health, before exploring the relationship between animals and psychological health, focusing on the ability of dogs, cats, and other species to aid the disabled and serve as a “therapist” to those in institutional settings. The paper also discusses the evidence for the ability of dogs to facilitate the diagnosis and treatment of specific chronic diseases, notably cancer, epilepsy, and diabetes. Mechanisms underlying the ability of animals to promote human health are discussed within a theoretical framework. Whereas the evidence for a direct causal association between human well-being and companion animals is not conclusive, the literature reviewed is largely supportive of the widely held, and long-standing, belief that “pets are good for us.”

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... Indeed, this notion of social support may contribute to the sense of an improved classroom learning environment and class ethos often referred to in the RTD/AAE literature (Brelsford et al. 2017;Hall, Gee, and Mills 2016;Reilly, Adesope, and Erdman 2020), and potentially leading to improved social engagement in reading practice. It is thought that dogs in classrooms can evoke shared social responses in the form of a 'social lubricant' (Klotz 2014;Wells 2009). It is conceivable that with a shared class focus on the pleasant 'friend' that is the dog, a sense of class connectedness (McLaughlin 2022) and belonging in the learning environment may develop, which in turn may support affective and cognitive engagement in a favourable learning culture in which to develop positive reading practices. ...
... Indeed, the idea that a dog facilitates increased feelings of calm through being a non-critical friend (Anderson and Olson 2006;Klotz 2014) that bestows unconditional positive regard and companionship (Wells 2009) seemed to be supported by the focus group data. For example, Child 1 was at first negatively distracted from reading, but as Seth did not rush her, and made her feel valued, she began to read to him, perhaps in a way suggestive of two friends supporting each other. ...
... Seth leaned up to her and wagged his tail, responding to her tone of voice, and she continued to participate in the reading group. Seth's presence perhaps provided a context for confidential listening (Wells 2009) for this child, and a secure environment for her to open up to others about this issue that was concerning her (Pillow-Price, Yonts, and Stinson 2014). ...
Article
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Wellbeing and effective engagement in reading are critical to successful learning and achievement throughout school and beyond. Reading to Dogs in schools is an increasingly popular way of supporting both wellbeing and reading engagement yet limited educational research has been conducted. This small-scale study took place in a Scottish Primary 1 classroom with N = 21 participants aged 5–6 years. A 4-week intervention, adopting an inclusive approach for the whole class, was evaluated. A qualitative study design incorporated observations and semi-structured interviews. Results suggest improved wellbeing and engagement in reading for all, however the greatest improvements were found in the most vulnerable.
... Számos tanulmányban elemezték az állatok jelenlétének légzésszámra, szívverésre vonatkozó normalizáló, valamint a stresszmutatók csökkenését eredményező hatását (Barker és mtsai 2005, Wu és mtsai 2002 In: Babos 2013, 60). A vizsgálatok elsődlegesen kutya jelenlétével foglalkoztak, azonban hasonlóan jótékony hatásúnak tűnnek más állatfajok is (Wells 2009In: Babos 2013. Állatok simogatásának hatására csökken az emberek vérnyomása, szívfrekvenciája, ami hosszú távon is egészségmegőrző hatású. ...
... Az állatoknak szorongáscsökkentő, figyelemfelkeltő és -fenntartó hatásuk van, ami segít a stresszes helyzetekben valami kellemesre terelni a figyelmet, ezzel is hozzájárulva egy nyugodtabb állapot eléréséhez (Wells 2009In: Babos 2013. A rendszeres relaxáció átélése szintén hozzájárul az egészség fenntartásához. ...
... Baun és munkatársai (1984) bebizonyították, hogy az állat simogatása közben a légzésszám is normalizálható (Babos, 2013). Érzelmi hatás a szorongás csökkenése, a spontán érzelemkifejezés és az ellazultabb állapot (Wells, 2009). A pszichés jóllét állapotához fontos a feltétel nélküli szeretet és elfogadás és ezt képesek az állatok nyújtani. ...
... vedteorierne er den såkaldte biofili-hypotese samt teorier om social støtte (se Thodberg og Christensen, dette nummer). Dyreberiget hverdag er et relevant begreb både i forhold til helt almindelige familiedyr og ved hjaelpehunde såsom førerhunde (for blinde), døvehunde, handicap-hunde og så videre, der er traenet til at hjaelpe ejeren med konkrete funktioner, men ofte bringer andre berigelser med sig (fx Eddy, Hart & Boltz, 1988;Kwong & Bartholomew, 2011;Wells, 2009). ...
... Det er som bekendt svaert at give fyldestgørende svar på, hvad de virksomme processer er i psykoterapi -dyreassisteret eller ej -men flere undersøgelser viser en effekt af dyrs tilstedevaerelse, som kan have relevans i terapeutisk sammenhaeng. For eksempel er det veldokumenteret, at hunde fremmer kontakt mellem mennesker, der ikke kender hinanden i forvejen (et resumé ses i Wells, 2009). Tilsvarende fandt Schneider og Harley (2006), at ukendte terapeuter blev bedømt som mere tillidsvaekkende ud fra videooptagelser, hvor deres hund var med, end ud fra tilsvarende optagelser uden hund. ...
Article
Artiklen introducerer det tværdisciplinære felt, der internationaltkaldes “human-animal studies” eller “anthrozoology” ogforeslår “antropozoologi” som dansk fællesbetegnelse. Feltetsbaggrund og bredde skitseres, og dyreassisteret psykoterapibeskrives mere detaljeret. To små undersøgelser indgår også iartiklen. Den ene analyserede international forskningsinteressefor dyreassisteret terapi ved søgning i tre videnskabelige databaserog fandt i alle et ungt, men hastigt voksende felt. Denanden undersøgelse angik opfattelse af og erfaring med dyreassisteretintervention blandt danske psykologer (N = 59).Mens størstedelen af dette (selv-selekterede) sample fandt brugaf dyr meget relevant for psykologer, havde få erfaring med det(n = 17). Forfatterne hilser på denne baggrund temanummerets15 tværdisciplinære og overvejende skandinaviskebidrag velkommen.
... Beyond alleviating symptoms of mental ill-health, contact and connectedness with nature is also associated with enhanced wellbeing and happiness [23][24][25]. Human-animal interactions, a common component of nature experiences, have also been acknowledged as beneficial for health and wellbeing [26,27]. However, increasingly urban lifestyles of modern industrialized countries mean that people find fewer opportunities to interact with animals and nature [28]. ...
... Having a companion animal or interacting with more domesticated urban nature such as gardens can offer a proxy to nature in such settings. Companion animal guardianship is associated with reduced feelings of loneliness, increased survival rates from certain diseases and improved quality of life, whereas encounters with wildlife can induce a deep sense of wellbeing, leading to transcendental experiences and psychological health benefits [27,[29][30][31]. ...
Article
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Research that examines lived experience and how emerging adults seek to create wellbeing in their daily lives through nature is limited. This paper addresses this gap by providing unique insights into how emerging adults perceive and experience nature as a beneficial resource for their wellbeing. Data were collected using photo-elicitation interviews, where 18 emerging adults took photographs that represented their views on and experiences of wellbeing, and during the follow-up interviews discussed the meaning of their photographs. Without a priori mention, 14 participants identified contact with various elements of nature as important resources in supporting their wellbeing. It is the results of these 14 interviews that are discussed in this paper with a focus on (i) the elements of nature which these emerging adults identify as important resources for their wellbeing, (ii) experiences and the perceived pathways between these elements of nature and wellbeing. Thematic analysis revealed four distinct perceived pathways connecting nature to wellbeing, including symbiotic nurturing, building social glue, maintaining a positive outlook, and centreing yourself. Four elements of nature facilitated these pathways: domesticated fauna, domesticated flora, wild fauna and wild surrounding nature. The findings help build understanding of how emerging adults perceive elements of nature as resources for wellbeing and can inform the development of nature-oriented interventions.
... Kruger & Serpell (2006) explain that the integration of animals into therapeutic or unstructured wellness activities can come under a variety of names, but I will refer to any intervention or activity that involves an animalin an assistive capacity to a humanas an "animal-assisted intervention (AAI)." Ample research findings show how the presence of animals can play a positive role in helping children meet development goals, with the implementation of AAIs reducing a wide array of symptoms pertaining to mental distress for both youth and adults (Berget & Ihlebaek, 2011;Bryant, 1985;Dell, Arratoon, Laptointe, & Lohnes, 2017;Hosey & Melfi, 2014;Husband et al., 2020;Peacock, Chur-Hansen, & Winefield, 2012;Poresky, 1996;Strand, 2004;Wells, 2009). ...
... As discussed in the literature review, One Health is important, as a strong connection to animals can be perceived as relational to one's broader connection to the social world. The implication for zooeyia to exist through human-animal bonding activities has been repeatedly documented to improve markers associated with overall wellness (Berget & Ihlebaek, 2011;Bryant, 1985;Dell, Arratoon, Laptointe, & Lohnes, 2017;Husband et al., 2020;Fine, 2015;McConnel, Brown, Shoda, Stayton, & Martin, 2011;Nepps et al., 2014;Peacock et al., 2012, Poresky, 1996Strand, 2004;Wells, 2009;Zilcha-Mano et al., 2011). Many of the known benefits of the HAB -specifically, motivation for healthier behaviors and a sense of belonging -directly correlate to a reduction in suicide risk indicators. ...
Thesis
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Despite ample anecdotal evidence, there are limited meaningful studies speaking to the important role that animal-assisted intervention (AAI) may have in reducing suicide risk. However, research is increasingly showing the viability of service dogs (SDs) being used as a complementary approach for military Veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance use harms – two of the strongest indicators for suicidality across any population. Using a critical suicidology approach with a One Health framework, my Master’s research utilized the concept of zooeyia - which recognizes the health benefits of animals in the lives of humans – to explore the significant role the human-animal bond (HAB) has in meditating suicidality. Using in-depth interview data from 28 transcripts that spanned an 18-month period, I undertook a secondary thematic analysis to explore the experiences of Canadian military Veterans at high risk for suicide working with SDs. My methodological approach used emotion and pattern coding to discover how the unique social support system enabled by the SDs can act as a catalyst to increase feelings of “mattering.” Mattering is a validated construct shown to reduce feelings of depression, loneliness, and hopelessness that are commonly associated with suicidal behavior. My study is the first of its kind, known to me, to show that feelings of mattering can exist between a human and animal; this conclusion is based on the presence of the indicators of mattering appearing between all Veteran and SD pairings within the sample. Further to this, the SDs were reported by the Veterans as being the direct catalyst in reducing self-harm and suicidality, while also promoting feelings of hope for “healing.” While acknowledgement of how context specificity and the unique lived experience of each person remains crucial for making sense of suicidality, the significant finding from this research has been the uncovering of the synergistic impact that mattering has in the lives of Veterans where the SD has been a bridge to improve their overall quality of life - a finding that may be critical in helping reduce future suicide risk among military Veterans.
... One of the benefits that has been associated with living with a companion animal is improved health and wellbeing (for reviews see Beetz et al., 2012;Friedmann et al., 2000;Herzog, 2011;Wells, 2007Wells, , 2009Wells, , 2019. Whilst not entirely conclusive (e.g., Fritz et al., 1995;Miller & Lago, 1990;Siegel et al., 1999;Tower & Nokota, 2006), various studies point to the value of companion animals in improving people's physical and mental welfare. ...
... Interestingly, Ratschen and associates (2020) found that companion animal ownership, regardless of species kept, was associated with less deterioration in mental health and smaller increases in loneliness during the first period of national lockdown in the UK, although this study required retrospective data collection and reported upon changes in mental wellbeing. Differences in methodological approach, sample size, and populations under scrutiny are likely to explain some of the variation in results published in this field (for a discussion of these issues, see Herzog, 2011;Wells, 2009). No significant difference in the mental health status of dog versus cat owners was observed in this study. ...
Article
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Companion animal ownership has been associated with a wide variety of physical and psychological health benefits. The extent to which a person gains any welfare advantages from the animal in their care, however, may be related to a wide variety of factors, one of which is the quality of the human–animal relationship. Thus far, little attention has been devoted to the role of attachment to one's companion animal on psychological wellbeing during a global pandemic, a time when mental health has been shown to be extremely poor. Therefore this study aimed to explore the relationship between the quality of the companion animal–human bond and mental wellbeing during a period of COVID-19-induced national lockdown in the United Kingdom. A purpose-designed online survey that aimed to measure sociodemographic background, companion animal ownership status, attachment level, and various components of mental wellbeing (depression, loneliness, positive experience, stress) was developed and completed by 249 UK-based adults (146 companion animal owners, 103 non-owners). Analysis revealed no significant relationship between companion animal ownership and any of the mental health outcome measures. Attachment to one's companion animal, however, was found to be a strong predictor of mental wellbeing, with higher bonds of attachment associated with higher levels of depression, loneliness, and lower levels of positive experience. Attachment to one's companion animal was not significantly associated with participants’ stress levels. Overall, findings from this study point to emotional vulnerability in people who are highly attached to their companion animal, although limitations must be borne in mind. This is an area worthy of further exploration, particularly considering the pandemic-induced rise in the number of people who have acquired a companion animal and the increment in mental health problems that has been predicted to emerge from COVID-19.
... Groft set kan menneske-dyr-interaktion og de velgørende effekter anskues gennem to enkle modi for samvaer. I artiklen "The Effects of Animals on Human Health and Well-Being" (Wells, 2009) skelnes der mellem "effekten af at interagere med dyret rent fysisk og effekten af naervaeret med dyret" (p. 525; egen oversaettelse). ...
Article
Små computerspil på eksempelvis iPads har fået interaktionsdesigneretil at se på kæledyr som nye teknologibrugere ogundersøge alternative brugsrelationer af håndholdte enhedermed et særligt fokus på katte. Artiklen forholder sig til den senesteudvikling inden for design af digitale spil til katte og depotentialer, denne aktivitet peger på i relation til menneske-dyr-interaktion.Artiklen tager afsæt i et spildesign udviklet af forfatteren, derbaserer sig på den økologiske tilgang til perception, og herudfradiskuteres design af spil til berøringsskærme i et menneske-dyr-interaktionsperspektiv.Den økologiske tilgang til perception ansessom værende et lovende udgangspunkt for design af spil til dyr,hvor forhold omkring dyrets niche, den visuelle perception og affordancesindtænkes som en del af en designtilgang. Observationerfra skærmbaserede spil sammenholdes med forfatterensobservationer af eget spildesign ud fra den økologiske tilgang.Afslutningsvis foreslår artiklen et nyt samlet forskningsfeltfor menneske-dyr-interaktion, der inkorporerer interaktiv digitalteknologi.
... Recognizing happiness may therefore increase one's own happiness. Dogs are also typically perceived as social and non-judgmental animals (see Arkow, 2019;Virués-Ortega & Buela-Casal, 2006;Wells, 2009), which may facilitate a positive social interaction. Notably, with the addition of the stressor following the video, there was no longer a significant difference in happiness scores between participants who watched dog videos and those who watched nature videos. ...
Article
Animal-assisted intervention (AAI) has been used as a means of stress relief in clinical and general settings; however, animals are not always allowed in certain spaces. Adapting AAI to video or virtual mediums could improve accessibility and is temporally relevant given the recent shift to online interventions. The current study explored: (1) whether an active video (dog or nature) watched before a stressor would improve wellbeing more than tranquil videos; (2) whether exposure to a dog video improves wellbeing more than a nature video; and (3) whether exposure to either a dog or nature video improves outcomes more than exposure to a control video. One hundred and seven undergraduates were randomly assigned to watch one of five videos (active dog, tranquil dog, active nature, tranquil nature, and control) for 3 minutes and then complete a 3-minute stress task. Subjective (anxiety, stress, happiness, relaxation, positive affect, and negative affect) and physiological (blood pressure and heart rate) outcomes were collected at baseline, video, stressor, and recovery time points. Results showed that the activity level of the dog in the video did not influence outcomes. However, relative to the control group, the dog-video condition showed decreases in stress from baseline to video and a smaller decrease in stress from stressor to recovery. Additionally, relative to the nature-video condition, the dog-video condition showed a slightly higher increase in happiness scores from baseline to video. Lastly, relative to the control group, the nature-video condition showed increased relaxation scores from baseline to video and a larger decrease in relaxation scores from video to stressor. This research may inform the development of alternate modes of AAIs.
... Pets play important roles in people's lives, providing companionship and entertainment to people. There is evidence that owning a pet can improve human psychological health through the development of strong emotional bonds (2). Having a pet has many benefits in terms of mental health, such as reducing stress, increasing the quality of life, and supporting social interaction (3,4). ...
Article
Objective: In this study, it was aimed to compare pet owners and non-pet owners in terms of depression, anxiety and quality of life. Methods: A total of 397 healthy volunteers over the age of 18, 192 pet owners, and 205 non-pet owners were included in our study. Sociodemographic data form, World Health Organization Quality of Life Scale-Short Form (SF-36), and Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) were administered to all participants. Results: Of all participants, 60.2% (n=239) were female and 39.8% (n=158) were male. The mean age of pet owners (36.74±9.56) was similar to non-pet owners (35.52±9.16) (p=0.194). The mean depression scores of pet owners (4.39±3.37) were significantly lower than non-pet owners (6.02±3.72) (p
... Quantitative methods are drawn on to succinctly document findings in areas that were identified in the literature, including anxiety, calmness, emotional control, health, loneliness and confidence (Taylor, Edwards & Pooley, 2015;Mossello et al., 2011;Furst, 2015;Wells, 2009;Hodgson et al., 2015). Quantitative data was analyzed using IBM SPSS version 23. ...
Article
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Current health care practices do not adequately meet the health needs of older adult war veterans. Increasingly, animal assisted interventions (AAIs) are being identified as potentially beneficial for this population. To explore this, this study, informed by a One Health framework, measured the outcomes of the St. John Ambulance ( SJA ) Therapy Dog Program on the wellbeing of older adults at a Veterans Affairs Canada residence in Saskatchewan, Canada. Over a 13 week period, two groups of veterans, of 8 and 10 in number respectively, who were living at the residence were purposively selected to participate in weekly individual and group therapy dog visits. The type of visit varied according to the level of cognition of the veteran, with lower level individuals visiting in a group format. A modified instrumental case study design was applied incorporating both quantitative and qualitative approaches, including questionnaires, focus groups, case history, and observation. Quantitative measures were analyzed descriptively, and qualitative measures were analyzed thematically. The findings revealed a positive influence of therapy dogs on memory recollection and reminiscence among veterans; positive health impacts on veteran wellbeing as understood through the significance of the therapy dog team encounter; and, perceived meaningful support from the therapy dog handlers and love and support from the therapy dogs. The analysis is contextualized within the growing literature on AAIs and contributes important insights to adequately meeting the needs of older adult war veterans, and potentially for the increasing population of recent war veterans. Additionally, key policy, practice, and research recommendations are proposed, including further investigation of therapy dog visits.
... Although the effects of contact with animals on human mental and physical health have received increasing attention [1][2][3][4][5], the neurophysiological correlates of these effects are not yet fully understood [6,7]. These correlates are, however, highly relevant to understanding the mechanisms underlying human-animal relationship [8][9][10][11] and to designing effective animalassisted interventions. ...
Article
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Background There is a broad range of known effects of animal contact on human mental and physical health. Neurological correlates of human interaction with animals have been sparsely investigated. We investigated changes in frontal brain activity in the presence of and during contact with a dog. Methods Twenty-one healthy individuals each participated in six sessions. In three sessions, participants had contact with a dog, and in three control sessions they interacted with a plush animal. Each session had five two-minute phases with increasing intensity of contact to the dog or plush animal from the first to the fourth phase. We measured oxygenated, deoxygenated, and total hemoglobin and oxygen saturation of the blood in the frontal lobe/frontopolar area with functional near-infrared spectroscopy (SenSmart Model X-100) to assess brain activity. Findings In both conditions, the concentration of oxygenated hemoglobin increased significantly from the first to the fourth phase by 2.78 μmol/l (CI = 2.03–3.53, p < .001). Oxygenated hemoglobin concentration was 0.80 μmol/l higher in the dog condition compared to in the control condition (CI = 0.27–1.33, p = .004). Deoxygenated-hemoglobin concentration, total hemoglobin concentration, and oxygen saturation showed similar patterns. Conclusion Prefrontal brain activation in healthy subjects increased with the rise in interaction closeness with a dog or a plush animal. Moreover, interaction with a dog stimulated more brain activity compared to the control condition, suggesting that interactions with a dog can activate stronger attentional processes and elicit more emotional arousal than interacting with a nonliving stimulus.
... Research on pet owners has shown that these individuals experience a variety of physical, psychological, and social benefits resulting from human-animal interactions (Aydin et al., 2012;Beetz, Uvnäs-Moberg, Julius & Kotrschal, 2012;Polheber & Matchock, 2013;Shiloh, Sorek & Terkel, 2003). At the same time, there are studies that have found either no significant relationship or an inverse relationship (Antonacopoulos & Pychyl, 2010;Wells, 2009;Wisdom, Saedi & Green, 2009). These inconsistent results could be due to a number of methodological differences and potential issues that make comparison difficult. ...
Article
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. Lo scopo di questo lavoro è quello di analizzare il rapporto tra benessere psicologico, soddisfazione di vita, strategie di coping e stili di attaccamento ad un animale domestico nel personale infermieristico. 147 infermieri hanno compilato un questionario, 79 dei quali erano proprietari di animali domestici. I risultati di questo studio possono essere utili per comprendere l'impatto che la cura di un animale domestico può avere sulla vita personale e professionale, in particolare sulla percezione della qualità della vita e gestione degli eventi stressanti. ᴥ SUMMARY. The aim of this work was to analyse the relationship between psychological well-being, life satisfaction, optimism, coping strategies and attachment to a pet in nurses. Data from pet owners were compared with those from non-pet owners working in the same health care facility. A self-reported questionnaire was used. 147 nurses completed the questionnaire, 79 of whom were pet owners. Overall, the results of this study show that the participants perceive a good quality of life, are satisfied with their work and life, and are optimistic about the future. Nurses with and without pets did not differ in perceived quality of life and life satisfaction between pet owners and non-pet owners. However, nurses who did not own a pet tended to use the coping strategy of emotional support more than pet owners. The findings contribute to a better understanding of how nurses who do and do not own a pet assess their quality of life, their satisfaction with life and work, and their coping with stressful events. In addition, the results of this study may be useful in learning first-hand about whether to get, care for, or keep a pet and the impact it may have on personal and professional lives.
... The positive effects of raising pets have been demonstrated in several previous studies. Well [7] reported that raising pets improves physical health and helps one communicate with others. In other words, pet caregivers feel less lonely than those without pets, and their interpersonal relationships become more active [8]. ...
Article
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The declining fertility rate and an aging population have accelerated the number of single-person households and nuclear families, and the number of households raising pets has naturally increased. However, pet owners experience great sorrow and trauma due to the death of their pets. The stronger the attachment to pets, the more severe the separation pain caused by pet loss. The purpose of this study was to analyze the moderating effect of a cognitive emotion regulation strategy mediated through separation pain on the relationship between attachment and post-traumatic growth after pet loss among owners. The study participants were 303 owners who have experienced pet loss. We analyzed the mediated moderating effects by PROCESS macro. The results showed that the adaptive cognitive emotion regulation strategy strengthened the effect of attachment to pets on post-traumatic growth and decreased the effect on separation pain. Conversely, the maladaptive cognitive emotion regulation strategy weakened the effect of attachment to pets on post-traumatic growth and strengthened the effect on separation pain. The act of intentionally expanding the perspective on pet loss experience, switching into a more positive focus, and accepting reality will reduce the grief of its companions and become an opportunity for growth.
... Even virtual experiences of nature have shown benefits to wellbeing (Grinde & Patil, 2009) and the popularity of relaxation apps that provide nature sounds and visuals are likely a testament to this. Moreover, although, SDT research has yet been conducted on the relatedness fulfilment of human-animal interaction, such a hypothesis is certainly aligned with research in other fields (McConnell et al., 2019;Wells, 2009 S26. Make community salient -A sense of belonging and human connection can often be facilitated in a virtual environment by making social presence more salient. ...
Article
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While human beings have a right to digital experiences that support, rather than diminish, their psychological wellbeing, technology designers lack research-based practices for ensuring psychological needs are met. To help address this gap, we draw on findings from over 30 years of research in psychology (specifically, self-determination theory) that has identified contextual factors shown to support psychological wellbeing. We translate these findings into a list of 15 heuristics and 30 design strategies to provide technology makers with theoretically grounded, research-based, and actionable ways to support wellbeing in user experience.
... Many papers on relationships and leisure, encompassing factors such as cultural facilities and services, shared space, and intimacy with neighbors, discuss significant relationships with improved QoL of residents [47,48]. In terms of socio-psychology, related prior studies [53,54] focused on "bond of human and animal" to improve QoL, suggesting that animal-assisted activity is more effective than entertainment and other leisure activities. Accordingly, the socio-psychological space and programs of the residential environment should be further subdivided, and this needs more attention when creating a residential environment from a biophilic point of view. ...
Article
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There has been increasing academic interest in biophilic design in response to recent environmental and climate change issues, including the COVID-19 pandemic. However, discussions of the utilization of digital technology in providing universal access to nature, and opportunities to experience more diverse nature, are lacking. This study aimed to compare and analyze major theoretical systems for biophilic experiences in a residential environment, and to propose a hybrid framework that combines physical and digital design techniques for comparison and analysis. This paper discusses framework application strategies in line with scales of residential environments. Based on a systematic literature review, this study integrated and derived key elements of biophilic experience for a better quality of life in a modern residential environment and proposed a hybrid framework and strategy based on this. As a result, a hybrid framework of 15 integrated factors for three biophilic experiences was derived, and various strengths and potential opportunities were identified in terms of application depending on the scales. At the unit scale, it was found that the well-being and health of residents improved; at the building scale, the potential for sustainability was highlighted; at the complex scale, there was a contribution to higher residential competitiveness in multi-dimensional aspects. In particular, the biophilic experience-based hybrid framework in this study provided insights into addressing the weaknesses and threats discussed in the existing biophilic design.
... Being considered as "close others" in owners' lives and nonjudgmental members of their social networks, pets provide owners with feelings of being cared for, loved, and valued (Horowitz, 2008;Nebbe, 2001). Pets can also provide a constant source of attachment security and can embody emotional support equivalent to that from close family members, thereby improving their owner's wellbeing (Wells, 2009). This is considerably salient during the COVID-19 pandemic because one's family members or close friends may not be present to provide immediate comfort due to the social distancing measures. ...
Article
Drawing on the transactional theory of stress, the current study investigates whether employee job insecurity triggers employee behavioral strain reactions (i.e., alcohol use, marijuana use, and cigarette use) and psychological strain reactions (i.e., emotional exhaustion and depression) through stress during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, we integrate social support theory and expect the moderating role of pet attachment support in the above relationships. By collecting two-wave data from 187 employees with pets in the United States, we found that during the COVID-19 pandemic, stress mediated the relationships between job insecurity and predicted behavioral and psychological reactions. Moreover, pet attachment support buffered the relationships between stress and these behavioral and psychological strain reactions (all except cigarette use). Pet attachment support also alleviated the conditional indirect effects job insecurity had on the two types of strain reactions via stress. We discuss theoretical and practical implications of this study.
... Four theories can be used to explain how human-animal interaction can be beneficial to humans: attachment theory, animals acting as social support, the biopsychosocial model, and the biophilia hypothesis [21]. According to the literature on animals acting as a social support and the biopsychosocial model, engaging with animals can decrease social isolation and loneliness and facilitate social interaction with other humans and often dogs [22,23]. Even thinking about cats and dogs can (according to all the theories) provide relief and create a buffer from the effects of social rejection [24]. ...
Article
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Long-term HIV/AIDS survivors responded online concerning their experiences during the AIDS and COVID pandemics. Recruited from web-based organizations for AIDS survivors, 147 answered questions on: frequency of experiencing stigma, isolation, aloneness, or grief/sadness; pet ownership; and sources of human support during each pandemic. Conditional inference trees were run to identify relevant demographic factors. Post-hoc comparisons were conducted to compare dog owners and cat owners. AIDS survivors reported more frequent feelings of stigma, aloneness, and sadness/grief during the AIDS pandemic than during COVID. Cat owners’ sadness/grief during AIDS was greater than non-owners. During COVID, older respondents unexpectedly were less often sad/grieving than younger ones; dog owners less often felt alone and isolated than non-dog owners. Support during the AIDS pandemic retrospectively was rated better for older respondents; young gays’ support was greater than young straights. During COVID, support was better for men than women. Contrastingly, women with pets felt less support than those without; men with dogs felt more support than those without. Cat owners more often felt isolated and unsupported during COVID than dog owners. Few dog or cat owners received support from family members in either pandemic; during AIDS, family support was better for owners of dogs than cats.
... Human nature seems to come with a specific affinity for nature and other living beings, known as biophilia (Fromm, 1964;Wilson, 1984;Kotrschal, 2019). In fact, the idea that humans enjoy positive effects from living with animals is supported by a number of positive health effects, including cardio-vascular, as well as an increased resilience against mental problems such as anxiety and depression (for reviews see Wells, 2009;Julius et al., 2012;Fine, 2015;Friedman and Krause-Parello, 2018). Hence, biophilia provides a major evolutionary-theoretical basis for research and practice in the field of human-animal relations (Julius et al., 2012;Friedman and Krause-Parello, 2018). ...
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Dogs are becoming increasingly popular in pedagogical settings. Particularly children with special educational needs are believed to benefit from dog-assisted interventions. However, reliable evidence for supporting such claims is still scarce and reports on the effectiveness of this approach are often anecdotal. With our review we aim at evaluating the literature to answer the question, whether dog-assisted interventions in an educational setting can help children with special educational needs to improve and to develop their emotional, social and cognitive skills. Following the PRISMA Guidelines, the literature was systematically searched for experimental studies until February 2021. Eighteen studies were finally included, which varied greatly in type of intervention, outcomes measured, sample sizes, and scientific quality, which precluded a formal meta-analysis. Hence, we resorted to a narrative synthesis. Overall, the studies report mixed results in the different functional domains of stress reduction, motivation, social skills, cognitive abilities, reading abilities, social conduct, and mental wellbeing. No study reported any negative effects of the intervention. The most unequivocal evidence comes from studies on dogs’ effects on physiological stress response in challenging situations and on motivation and adherence to instructions, reporting significantly lower levels of cortisol in both children and pedagogues in the presence of dogs, as well as increased motivation to learn and participate. Findings for other outcomes, academic or social, however, remain inconclusive. Data on long-term effects are lacking altogether. Still, this review indicates the potentials of dog-assisted interventions in special pedagogy, particularly towards supporting a calm and trustful social atmosphere.
... However, existing literature has also shown that petting a dog could lead to transient decreases in blood pressure and heart rate (Shiloh et al., 2003;Eddy, 1996). Wells (2009) argued that dogs could influence their owner's restorative quality through increasing social contacts, thus easing feelings of loneliness and depression. A recent study demonstrates that strong attachment to dogs and cats generally relieves mental health struggles during the COVID-19 pandemic (McDonald et al., 2021). ...
Article
Despite the important roles that animals play in ecosystems, their functions in urban green spaces are often overlooked. To fill this gap, this study explored the effects of four animal species on the mental restorative quality of urban green spaces by comparing observers’ response to pictures with and without animals. The results indicated that swans, deer, and pigeons which were unthreatening to humans could significantly improve mental restoration of observers, and comparatively, swans had the strongest effect. Conversely, unleashed dogs were a potential threat to humans, and decreased the mental restorative quality of urban green spaces. The mechanism of animals’ effects on mental restoration and the differential effects of four animal species were discussed. To the authors’ knowledge, this is the first study addressing the mental health impacts of animals in landscapes, and the results suggest that “animal-inclusive landscape design” has a positive impact on urban green spaces.
... All family members tend to bond with their companion animals, particularly children. The human-animal bond is especially significant for children in single-parent families and those without siblings (Wells, 2009). Dog owners were found to be as emotionally close to their dogs as they were their closest family members (Flynn, 2000). ...
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... The benefits of human-animal relationships for human health and well-being have attracted scientific interest for years [33][34][35][36]. This is not only evidenced in the veterinary research literature [16,37], but also in human medicine publications [38,39], including the human paediatric literature [40][41][42][43][44]. ...
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Obesity in humans is a growing global problem and is one of the greatest public health challenges we face today. Most researchers agree that, as in humans, the incidence in the companion animal population is also increasing. The aim of this study was to evaluate the risk factors contributing to canine obesity in a region with a high rate of human obesity (Canary Islands, Spain), co-occurrence of obesogenic risk factors, and a canine population with a high percentage of unneutered dogs. We have focused on owner risk factors that promote obesity in humans, such as weight, lifestyle, nutritional habits, and low physical activity, among others. Thus, the human–animal interaction relationship that contributes to human obesity and influences canine obesity has been studied. A multicentre cross-sectional analytical study of 198 pairs of dogs from urban households and their owners was used. A multivariable logistic regression study was completed to analyse owner characteristics variables associated with canine obesity. This transdisciplinary study was conducted with physicians and veterinarians using a “One Health” approach. Our results suggest that, in a region of high obesogenic risk, obese/overweight dogs are primarily female, older than 6 years, and neutered. Being an overweight dog owner was found to be the most important factor in the occurrence of obesity in dogs. Owners of overweight dogs were mainly females, older than 40 years, who did not engage in any physical activity. A strong correlation has been found between dog owners with low levels of education and obesity in their dogs. We suggest that veterinarians should develop and design strategies to encourage pet owners to engage in physical activity with their dogs for the benefit of both.
... A survey of cat and dog owners found that 49.2% of respondents experienced "a lot", or "quite a lot" of negative effects on their lifestyle caused by isolation [37]. Such findings support the theory that the lifestyle that a pet affords an owner is an important contributor to the wellbeing benefits derived from ownership [38]. ...
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During the lockdown phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, equestrian stakeholders faced a dilemma whereby they were required to balance caring for the welfare of horses with adapting to the restrictions imposed to protect public health. The present study investigated the impact of the pandemic on the wellbeing of a sample of industry stakeholders, including horse owners, equine veterinarians, farriers and welfare centre managers (n = 26) using a qualitative methodology. Findings from the interviews indicated that the mental health and wellbeing of veterinarians and horse owners was negatively affected by pandemic-related obstacles to communication and limitations to horse–owner interactions. However, this study also identified several positive outcomes for wellbeing during lockdown resulting from pro-social activities that were engaged with by horse owners to overcome social isolation, the separation of the community and loneliness. These findings provide accounts of ways in which those caring for horses might be challenged during national emergency scenarios, pointing to areas that would benefit from future mental health and wellbeing interventions.
... Pet ownership has been linked to better mental health and enhanced well-being in the general population as well as in patients with physical and mental disorders (for a review see Wells [1]). For instance, pets have been shown to reduce loneliness and depression in older populations and to improve their perceived general health [2]. ...
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Background: Research suggests that companion animals have a beneficial effect on mental health. However, there are also studies finding null or negative relationships between pet ownership and mental health. It has been suggested that attachment to pets accounts for these diverging findings. Interestingly, there is some research suggesting that attachment to pets differs from attachment to humans with studies showing that humans with an insecure attachment style form a particularly strong attachment to their companion animals. Human attachment style also seems to play a role in mental health with secure attachment being associated with superior mental health. Thus, one may assume that attachment to humans plays a role in the relationship between attachment to pets and mental health. However, to our knowledge, only one study so far has investigated attachment to both pets and humans, while assessing mental health. Methods: Thus, in this cross-sectional online survey (N = 610) we assessed attachment to pets and humans. We further collected pet specific data as well as mental health burden in a sample of German dog owners (Mage = 33.12; 92.79% female). We hypothesized that the relationship between attachment to one’s dog and mental health is mediated by attachment to other people. Results: We found that a stronger attachment to one’s dog was associated with lower comfort with depending on or trusting in others, whereby lower comfort with depending on or trusting in others was related to higher mental health burden. Moreover, a stronger attachment to one’s dog was also related to a greater fear of being rejected and unloved (Anxiety), which was, in turn, associated with a higher mental health burden. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that a strong attachment to pets does not have a detrimental effect on mental health by itself, but that this effect is fully mediated by an insecure attachment to other people.
... McConnell et al. (2019) noted well-being can be caused by viewing a pet the same way one views a family member. Wells (2009) states that the act of stroking a pet can decrease blood pressure, and that interacting with a familiar pet has greater therapeutic benefits than an interaction with an unfamiliar pet. This helps show that there may be greater benefits with an emotional attachment to one's pet compared to an interaction with any animal. ...
Article
Previous research has demonstrated the association between human communal relationships and well-being. We extend the previous research and view whether relationship orientation to pet relationships affords similar benefits. We examined this with question with two correlational studies. Study 1 viewed the correlations between pet relationship orientation and well-being measures, both before and after controlling for other features of one's relationship with their pet to determine the unique contribution of relationship orientation. In addition, Study 2 demonstrated that communal pet relationships were similar to communal relationships with a participant's romantic partner and platonic friend, although their contributions to well-being were out shadowed by those of interpersonal relationships. The current findings advance relationship orientation by providing evidence that relationship orientation can be applied to non-human relationships.
... Dogs can help to motivate children in reading by taking the role of non-judgemental companions, thereby decreasing anxiety, and increasing motivation and con dence during reading (Brelsford et al. 2017;Hall et al. 2016;Reilly, Adesope, and Erdman 2020). Children's wellbeing is supported through perception of the dog as unconditionally accepting and valuing the child (Anderson and Olson 2006), decreasing stress, and acting as a social lubricant, thereby supporting positive social classroom experiences (Klotz 2014;Wells 2009). While some structured RTD interventions exist (Lewis and Grigg 2021), most current RTD practice lacks the educational goal-centred structure of AAE and is more informal and recreational in nature (Lewis and Grigg 2021). ...
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Background Animal-assisted Education (AAE), including Reading to Dogs (RTD), is an area of growing interest internationally across all phases of education, and increasingly considered an innovative approach to improving pupil outcomes. As creating RTD interventions necessitates a combination of expertise from the fields of education and human-animal interactions, finding effective ways to achieve collaboration in RTD intervention design is imperative. Purpose We sought to develop and work within a collaborative framework in order to co-design an AAE intervention, drawing upon researcher and teacher knowledge, experience and expertise. Our specific collaboration had the goal of co-designing an RTD intervention focused on supporting primary-aged children’s reading and wellbeing. This paper describes the co-design process, and our evaluation of the collaborative process and framework. Methods Three teachers, from different school contexts and educational authorities, and a researcher engaged in a structured co-design process to create the RTD intervention. A three-phase co-design framework was developed, implemented and evaluated. The framework ensured that theoretical and empirical research (via the researcher) and professional and pedagogical expertise (via three teachers) informed the intervention design. Findings The three-phase framework – initial preparation, recruitment and online platform creation, and intervention co-design – enabled a productive and meaningful collaborative process which led to the development of an RTD intervention informed by a synthesis of research and practice. In our evaluation, the collaborating teachers were very positive about the framework, reflecting that it provided effective facilitation of the co-design and observing that working with teachers from other authorities offered a valuable and motivating learning opportunity. Conclusions The co-design of interventions by researchers and teachers offers a way to synthesise theoretical and empirical research insights with professional and pedagogical expertise. It can help to create interventions that are research-informed but also more likely to be acceptable to the education community and feasible for classroom practice. This framework could be drawn upon by researchers, teachers and school leaders across a range of disciplines who seek to develop AAE and other interventions collaboratively.
... Exercising in a green area also seemed to produce well-being, according to the drawings in the current study. Social well-being was also highlighted in the data with the presence of humans (e.g., with images of friends, relatives and animals), which is in line with previous research because animals brought well-being to people [30,66] and especially to children [67]. ...
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In the context of landscape, both the natural environment and the built environment can be linked with human health and well-being. This connection has been studied among adults, but no research has been conducted on young people. To fill this gap, this case study aimed to elucidate students' views on landscapes worth conserving and the landscapes that affect and support their well-being. The participants (n = 538) were Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish students from grades 3-6. The students drew the landscapes they wanted to conserve. The drawn landscapes and the welfare-supporting features they contained were analysed using inductive and abductive content analyses. The students from all three countries preferred water, forest and yard landscapes. In the drawings of natural landscapes, the most recurring themes were sunrise or sunset, forest, beach and mountain landscapes. Physical well-being was manifested in the opportunity to jog and walk. Social well-being was reflected in the presence of friends, relatives and animals. Therapeutically important well-being-related spaces-the so-called green (natural areas), blue (aquatic environments) and white (e.g., snow) areas-were also depicted in the participants' drawings. It can be concluded that the drawn landscapes reflect several values that promote students' well-being.
... Even though currently no established theoretical framework exists for AAIs, in general, or for DTPs, in particular (Beetz, 2017;Furst, 2019), DTPs may target several of the previously mentioned psychosocial developmental needs (e.g., emotion regulation skills, future perspective taking, and self-responsibility) of incarcerated juveniles and adults that are related to the desistance of crime (e.g., Beetz, 2017;Furst, 2019;Hill, 2020;Kruger et al., 2004;Leonardi et al., 2017;Wells, 2009). One important need in both juvenile and adult offenders is the development of skills to help regulate impulses and aggressive behavior. ...
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The effectiveness of Dutch Cell Dogs (DCD), a prison-based dog training program, in reducing criminal behavior and recidivism was assessed in a quasi-experimental study in twelve correctional facilities in the Netherlands (N = 241). DCD is a program in which incarcerated offenders train a shelter dog bi-weekly for eight weeks. Results demonstrated that DCD (n = 121) did not outperform treatment-as-usual (TAU; n = 120) in official recidivism outcomes and self-reported criminal behavior. However, subgroups based on age and detainees’ functioning responded differently in self-reported criminal behavior. Positive effects were found on self-reported criminal behavior for DCD participants who were older, had lower callous-unemotional traits, or had higher treatment motivation. In conclusion, findings provided initial evidence that subgroups may respond differently to a dog training program, however, more experimental research with larger sample sizes is needed.
... The studies that have been published are often not substantiated with regard to study populations or methods, making broad conclusions difficult. Furthermore, some studies that have investigated the correlation between pet ownership and mental health have revealed no effect, or even worse, negative effects of pet ownership [11][12][13][14][15]. The inconsistencies in the literature and limitations of these studies warrant a thorough exploration of the effect of pet ownership on mental health outcomes among large, diverse population samples. ...
Article
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Pet ownership is the most common form of human–animal interaction, and anecdotally, pet ownership can lead to improved physical and mental health for owners. However, scant research is available validating these claims. This study aimed to review the recent peer reviewed literature to better describe the body of knowledge surrounding the relationship between pet ownership and mental health. A literature search was conducted in May 2020 using two databases to identify articles that met inclusion/exclusion criteria. After title review, abstract review, and then full article review, 54 articles were included in the final analysis. Of the 54 studies, 18 were conducted in the general population, 15 were conducted in an older adult population, eight were conducted in children and adolescents, nine focused on people with chronic disease, and four examined a specific unique population. Forty-one of the studies were cross-sectional, 11 were prospective longitudinal cohorts, and two were other study designs. For each of the articles, the impact of pet ownership on the mental health of owners was divided into four categories: positive impact (n = 17), mixed impact (n = 19), no impact (n = 13), and negative impact (n = 5). Among the reviewed articles, there was much variation in population studied and study design, and these differences make direct comparison challenging. However, when focusing on the impact of pet ownership on mental health, the results were variable and not wholly supportive of the benefit of pets on mental health. Future research should use more consistent methods across broader populations and the development of a pet-ownership survey module for use in broad, population surveys would afford a better description of the true relationship of pet ownership and mental health.
... Several studies have reported that animal ownership or interaction with animals may contribute to improve overall quality of life including physical, social and psychological health [10][11][12][13]. Nevertheless, any health benefits must be evaluated considering several variables, including age, gender, and socioeconomic status, but also the time spent with each pet and the bond that is fostered between owners and their pets, which is naturally different between members of the same household [12]. ...
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Pet ownership is common in modern society. In Portugal, 38% and 31% of all households own at least one dog or cat, respectively. Few studies have ascertained the knowledge of pet owners on pet ownership and zoonoses, and none have been carried out in Portugal. The aim of the present study was to assess household knowledge and practices related to pet ownership and zoonoses in northern Portugal. A face-to-face questionnaire was completed by 424 pet owners, from November 2019 to February 2020. Most respondents (97.2%) considered pets as an important part of the family, especially women (p = 0.036); 73.1% allowed their pets to live an indoor/outdoor life; 41.3% denied sharing the bed with their pets while 29% assumed they did it daily; 20.3% reported never kissing their pets/pets licking their faces. Furthermore, 73.6% considered animals as potential sources of human diseases, but only 25.9% reported knowing the definition of zoonoses; 96.9% considered the role of veterinarians important in protecting public health. The low level of knowledge of pet owners and the occurrence of high-risk behaviors indicates a need to strengthen communication between veterinarians, physicians, pet owners, and the general public towards reduce the risk of acquisition and transmission of zoonoses.
... Owning a dog has been repeatedly suggested to protect and/or improve people's well-being [18][19][20][21] , even under more challenging circumstances, such as the COVID-19 pandemic [22][23][24] , a positive diagnosis of HIV [25][26][27] , old age [28][29][30] , chronic pain [31][32][33][34] , etc. In general terms, owning a dog seems to have the potential to improve the quality of life of any person (who likes dogs). ...
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Mental health problems and suicide are more frequent in autistic adults than general population. Dog ownership can improve human well-being. This study aimed to generate a framework of well-being outcomes for dog-related activities in autistic adults and compare it to the framework generated for a general adult population. Thirty-six autistic dog owners (18–74 years old, 18 males) from diverse UK regions were interviewed and transcripts thematically analysed. 16.7% reported that their dogs prevented them from taking their own lives, mainly due to the dog's affection and the need to care for the animal. Close dog-owner interactions (e.g., cuddling, walking, dog's presence) were the most frequent activities improving emotions/moods and life functioning, whereas routine-like activities (e.g., feeding the animal) particularly enhanced life functioning. Well-being worsening was mainly linked to dog behaviour problems, dog poor health/death and obligations to the dog. Despite some negatives associated with ownership, having a dog could improve the well-being of many autistic adults and assist suicide prevention strategies in this high-risk group. The framework was consistent with that generated previously, indicating its robustness and the potential opportunity to focus on dog-related activities rather than the vague concept of “ownership” when considering the impact of ownership on well-being.
Article
This study evaluated an online multi-component Reading to Dogs (RTD) intervention named Paws and Learn (PAL). Designed as a controlled feasibility study (i.e., comparing an intervention and a control group, as well as evaluating the intervention's practicality for the classroom), this research examined the intervention's impact on children's wellbeing, reading affect and frequency (RAF), children and teachers’ perceptions and experiences of PAL; and implementation considerations for the classroom. PAL consists of five components, one of which is RTD, complemented by four additional components designed to increase connection to the dog (whom they only meet virtually) and increase and consolidate benefits. RTD in schools is growing in international popularity and prevalence yet concerns about the practice exist. Online PAL was informed by a survey of teachers’ perspectives of RTD, and a co-design process combining research and practice. A pre-post-test control group design, with a mixed method evaluation was adopted. In total,N=106 pupils (aged 9) and their teachers from 3 schools participated in the 4-week study. Measures included wellbeing and RAF questionnaires, and interviews with intervention class teachers (N = 3) and a sub-sample of children (n = 33). In general, no statistically significant differences were found in wellbeing, reading affect or frequency, however qualitative insights revealed positive perceptions and experiences of online PAL, specifically in relation to wellbeing and reading affect. Online PAL was deemed feasible for classroom use, particularly if technological challenges can be overcome. Implications for the delivery of RTD interventions are discussed.
Article
The review provides an overview of the current literature concerning the use of horses in equine-assisted services (EAS) and of their effects on humans, and it focuses on their effects on horses. The scientific contributions on EAS are discussed and it is underlined the need to monitor the ability of horses to cope with stress conditions during activity in order to maintain and enhance their welfare. The changes of hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis’ hormones and of total and free iodothyronines during therapeutic riding are presented and critically discussed. The hypothesis of the utilization of Triodothyronine (T3) and free Triiodothyronine (fT3) as markers to assess the mental stress of therapeutic horses during EAS is presented.
Article
A common challenge for animal shelters/rescues is retaining volunteers that provide foster care for animals in their homes. This research investigated how animal shelters and rescues might better support volunteer dog fosters by examining the extent and role of attachment to the foster dog, the emotional challenges of fostering, and how organizations might alleviate these stressors. It employed data from a national survey of over 600 dog foster volunteers across the US. Findings suggest that emotional attachment to foster dogs is similar to attachment to pet dogs. Fostering animals does not appear to come without some emotional challenges for the human at the other end of the leash. Experiencing higher levels of emotional stress from fostering can have impacts on thoughts of quitting, which may hamper retention, particularly among the valuable volunteers who foster frequently. Organizational support directed at the human volunteer can alleviate these feelings, potentially increasing retention.
Article
In Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, the number of pets and pet owners has been increasing in recent years. The experiences people have with pets might impact their relationships with animals in general and especially attitudes towards animal protection and use. However, research on the impact of pet ownership on values and attitudes towards animals is relatively scarce. We analyse associations of pet ownership with different values and attitudes towards animals. We derived seven attitude constructs towards animals from three different datasets using Principal Component Analyses. Data were collected using standardised online surveys with German residents (dataset 1 = 1,049 respondents; dataset 2 = 414 respondents; dataset 3 = 1,048 respondents). All three samples are non-probability quota samples. The seven attitudinal constructs represent values and attitudes towards animals ranging from general values and attitudes towards, eg animal protection, to more specific attitudes towards, eg eating animals. We analysed the relationship of pet ownership, sex, and age with these constructs using ANOVA. Our results show that effect sizes are small to medium. Pet ownership has the strongest association with more general values and attitudes towards animals, with pet owners being, eg more involved in animal protection and more in favour of awarding fundamental rights to animals. In contrast, we found that more specific attitudes, such as the evaluation of current pig farming systems or attitudes towards eating meat, were more related to sex than pet ownership. Our findings indicate that having pets relates to their owners' attitudes towards animals, but that this association varies depending on the specificity of attitudes.
Article
During social interactions, one must be able to interpret social signals that convey information and respond appropriately to interactants. Several factors have been shown to influence decisions of interpersonal distance preferences; however, research has yet to determine the associative effects companion animals may have on social information processing during intended interactions. Previous research (Briones et al., 2022) distinguished between various breeds of dogs perceived to be higher or lower in aggression, and further showed that people had a greater tendency to interact with dogs perceived to be lower in aggression. The current studies (Study 1 n = 174; Study 2 n = 229) were an extension of that research and used computer-simulated avatar interactions to assess the influence of dog breeds and other factors on actual proxemic behavior during goal-related social interactions. Results showed that during social interactions, (a) interactants associated with dog breeds perceived higher in aggressiveness elicited larger interpersonal spaces; (b) closer interpersonal distances are maintained with friends than strangers; (c) greater affinity for dogs, in general, was related to closer proxemic distances; and (d) dog handlers taking the perspective of the approaching interactant results in greater interpersonal distances.
Article
Many professional counselors and the general public are enthusiastic and curious about the role of animals in mental health. In particular, professional counselors face a growing demand for professional consensus guidelines to ethically and appropriately respond to emotional support animal (ESA) documentation requests. In this article, the authors clarify helper animal taxonomy and discuss current literature, laws, policies, risks, and benefits relevant to making professional decisions surrounding the sensitive issue of ESAs in client wellness.
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Background: Depression is a major contributor to overall global disease burden, often beginning in the teenage years and continuing into later life. Previous studies have reported high global rates of depression during these formative years, including in Bangladesh. At the same time, the positive impact that pet ownership can have on depression is steeply being recognized. However, studies examining these effects in Bangladesh are scarce. This study examined the association between household pet ownership and depression among people older than 13 years in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted using online and offline approaches. We employed a snowball sampling technique to identify pet owners aged greater than 13 years residing in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Both web-based survey questionnaires using social media and hard copies were used to collect data from urban-dwelling pet owners. Logistic regression model was used to identify the independent role of pet ownership in depression, adjusting for confounders, including age, sex, marital status, known chronic disabilities, and other variables. Results: A total of 140 pet owners and an equal number of non-pet owners participated in the study. Pet owners were found to be 41% less depressed than non-pet owners (AOR: 0.59; 95% CI: 0.31–1.14). In addition, males (AOR: 3.38; 95% CI: 1.50–7.62) who were either unmarried (AOR: 2.10; 95% CI: 1.05–4.16), smoked tobacco (AOR: 5.27; 95% CI: 1.50–18.53), or had a physical disability (AOR: 5.27; 95% CI: 1.50–18.53) were significantly more likely to be depressed. Conclusion: Regression analysis revealed that in Dhaka, pet owners were associated with lower levels of depression compared to non-pet owners.
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Background Several studies have investigated the relationship between emotional attachment to pets and mental health with the majority of studies finding a negative relationship between emotional attachment to pets and mental health. Interestingly, attachment to pets differs from attachment to humans with studies showing that humans with an insecure attachment style form a particularly strong emotional attachment to their companion animals. Human attachment style is also related to mental health with secure attachment being associated with superior mental health. Building on those findings, the current study aimed at exploring the role of attachment to humans in the relationship between emotional attachment to pets and mental health. Methods In this cross-sectional online survey (N = 610) we assessed the strength of emotional attachment to pets and attachment to humans. We further collected pet specific data as well as mental health burden in a sample of German dog owners (Mage=33.12; 92.79% women). We used a mediation model estimating the indirect link between emotional attachment to pets and mental health burden via human attachment and the direct link between emotional attachment to pets and mental health burden simultaneously. Results We found that attachment to humans fully mediated the positive association between emotional attachment to pets and mental health burden. A stronger emotional attachment to one’s dog was associated with lower comfort with depending on or trusting in others, whereby lower comfort with depending on or trusting in others was related to higher mental health burden. Moreover, a stronger attachment to one’s dog was also related to a greater fear of being rejected and unloved (Anxiety), which was, in turn, associated with a higher mental health burden. Conclusion Our findings suggest that the positive link between emotional attachment to pets and mental health burden is fully accounted for by its shared variance with insecure attachment to humans in a sample mostly comprising self-identified women. Future studies need to examine whether strong emotional bonds with pets may evolve as a compensatory strategy to buffer difficult childhood bonding experiences.
Article
Kronik hastalıklar hem ülkemizde hem de dünyada giderek artmakta olan 21. yüzyılın en önemli sağlık sorunlarından biridir. Kronik hastalıklar yaşam boyu bakım gerektiren, kişilerin yaşam kalitesini etkileyen çoğu zaman ilerleyici hastalıklardır. Bu süreçte hastanın fonksiyonel yeteneklerini en üst düzeyde tutmak, hastalık ile uyumunu sağlamak ve semptomların gelişmesini önlemek için multidisipliner yaklaşımların kullanılması gerekmektedir. Hayvan destekli tedavi, insan-hayvan etkileşimine dayanan, kronik hastalıklar ve ruhsal bozukluklara bağlı fiziksel veya psikolojik sorunları olumlu yönde etkileyen alternatif bir tedavi türüdür. Dünyada giderek kullanımı artmakta olan hayvan destekli tedavi; kardiyovasküler hastalıklar, solunum hastalıkları, kanser, demans ve inme gibi kronik hastalıklarda önemli tamamlayıcı, alternatif tedavi çeşitlerinden biridir. Hayvan destekli tedavinin, sağlığın korunmasında, geliştirilmesinde, kronik hastalıkların getirdiği psikolojik, sosyal ve fiziksel yükün hafifletilmesinde önemli etkileri bulunmaktadır. Konuyla ilgili çalışmaların artırılmasına ve geliştirilmesine ihtiyaç vardır. Bu derleme ile hayvan destekli tedavi ve kronik hastalıklarda etkisinin incelenmesi amaçlanmıştır.
Article
Objectives: Describe the emotional support animal (ESA) experience of college students detailing the process of obtaining an ESA, as well as the benefits and obstacles. Participants: Nine students who had an ESA at college provided preliminary information while an additional four offered insights into their COVID experience with their ESA. Archived records from the Accessibility Resource Center added detail on the ESA process. Methods: This mixed-method study included qualitative interviews (9 students prior to COVID and 4 during COVID) as well as a quantitative analysis of archived data. Thematic analysis was used to extract themes from the interviews. Archived data were analyzed for frequency of select topics. Results: Four positive themes (presence of animal, empowerment, symptom alleviation, and social catalyst) and three negative themes (housing accommodations, lack of ESA education on campus, and social consequences) were extracted from initial interview responses. Analysis of COVID interviews also revealed positive and negative themes with many similar to the pre-COVID responses but also included unique themes reflective of the restrictions imposed by the pandemic. Archived data revealed a substantial increase in the number of ESAs on campus, a wide range of species, and an array of complaints such as safety concerns, ESA behavior, ESA cleanliness, and ESA in unauthorized areas. Conclusions: Overall, the college ESA experience appears beneficial, facilitating the adjustment to college for students with mental health concerns. However, there are drawbacks. Knowledge of obstacles and concerns will help ease the ESA process for all constituents.
Article
Past research highlights the potential for leveraging both humans and animals as social support figures in one’s real life to enhance performance and reduce physiological and psychological stress. Some studies have shown that typically dogs are more effective than people. Various situational and interpersonal circumstances limit the opportunities for receiving support from actual animals in the real world introducing the need for alternative approaches. To that end, advances in augmented reality (AR) technology introduce new opportunities for realizing and investigating virtual dogs as social support figures. In this paper, we report on a within-subjects 3x1 (i.e., no support, virtual human, or virtual dog) experimental design study with 33 participants. We examined the effect on performance, attitude towards the task and the support figure, and stress and anxiety measured through both subjective questionnaires and heart rate data. Our mixed-methods analysis revealed that participants significantly preferred, and more positively evaluated, the virtual dog support figure than the other conditions. Emerged themes from a qualitative analysis of our participants’ post-study interview responses are aligned with these findings as some of our participants mentioned feeling more comfortable with the virtual dog compared to the virtual human although the virtual human was deemed more interactive. We did not find significant differences between our conditions in terms of change in average heart rate; however, average heart rate significantly increased during all conditions. Our research contributes to understanding how AR virtual support dogs can potentially be used to provide social support to people in stressful situations, especially when real support figures cannot be present. We discuss the implications of our findings and share insights for future research.
Chapter
Animal-assisted interventions (AAI) are now being considered an alternative and complimentary treatment modality, supporting the physical, psychosocial, and educational needs of children and adults. AAI is the accepted umbrella term that encompasses various practices including animal-assisted therapy, animal-assisted education, and animal-assisted activities. This article will discuss the foundations of AAI and provide supporting information to conceptualize the value of human–animal interactions. Additionally, attention will be given to provide a possible roadmap for the future of AAI, as well as a discussion on the importance of preserving the welfare of the therapy animals involved.
Article
Disenfranchised grief can be defined as a loss that is not openly acknowledged or a mourning process not recognized socially after a loss. One can also self-disenfranchise as suppressing and not allowing oneself to grieve. The current study aims to examine perceived disenfranchisement, self-disenfranchisement and disenfranchisement of others. For this purpose, three hypothetical unacknowledged loss scenarios, which are pet loss, a romantic relationship break-up and having a psychological disorder, were used to compare self and other disenfranchisement as well as to reveal the relationships to attachment and social support. The findings indicate that the three loss scenarios differ in terms of the acknowledgement of loss, grief and social and professional support for self and others. Subsequently, attachment and social support are significantly related to the evaluations of the disenfranchised grief process. Finally, the implications of the findings are discussed.
Chapter
Advance of nanoscale electrode constituents for the environmental monitoring applications has expanded substantial prominence, in terms of new functionality, high sensitivity, and specificity as a vigorous sensor platform. This chapter has delivered a brief instance of the contemporary benefits and margins in the design of electrochemical sensor, which are permitted by the unique physicochemical and electrochemical properties of the nanomaterials for environmental applications. Owing to the progresses in the nanomaterials synthesis, sensor fabrication, integration and testing analytical extents, the fast and online monitoring of evolving environmental pollutants might offer a probable explication toward the acknowledgment of the highly sensitive sensors. The exclusive chemical and physical properties of nanomaterials deliver an adaptable toolbox for emergent numerous revealing techniques with high sensitivity, specificity, speed, simplicity, and cost-effectiveness for environmental monitoring. Further, the advancement of the sensors with high sensitivity, rapid response and lowcost, the direct analytical measurements of the developed sensors in the commercial environmental is a milestone because of the lack of all-embracing combined efforts amid multidisciplinary science and engineering disciplines. The investigation of new nanomaterials will become an innovative source for evolving sensors for environmental monitoring, and such sensors may ultimately find widespread applications with the exertions from both academics and industry.
Chapter
Over the past decades, an abundant deal of work has been devoted to the production of nanoscale materials for environmental remediation. Favorable outcomes have been attained in this regard where scholars managed to improve nanomaterials that propose the probability of effective adsorption or destruction of contaminants and sterilization of bacteriological pollutants and also the great development in recognition of chemical and biological constituents. In this regard, the main problem before assembling regarding nanotechnology is how better to protect human health, safety, and the environment as nanosized materials and products are investigated, established, synthesized, used, and thrown out. However, the fast-emerging field of nanotechnology is whispered by numerous to offer important cost-effective and societal benefits, some investigation outcomes have raised concerns about the potential adverse environmental, health, and safety suggestions of nanosized materials. Functionalization of the nanomaterials possesses the ability to scheme new materials and devices that take benefit of unique occurrences obtainable by the nanosized materials with the convenient solutions to enhance the disadvantages that hinder the full‐scale application of nanotechnology in the environmental field. This simultaneous perception recommends the significance of initial consideration and extent of the diffusion of nanomaterial environmental, health, and safety research.
Chapter
The process of functionalization with functional groups, molecules, or biomolecules via superficial modification significantly influences the performance of nanomaterials and nanoparticles and enables them to act efficiently in the design and fabrication of electrochemical sensors being components of the transducers which can be applied in different fields for the detection of analytes such as biomarkers, contaminants, preservatives, etc. It is often used to reduce the nonspecific binding of the various analytes to the surface of transducing components. This is the researchable area of electrochemistry at present. In electrochemical sensing, high sensitivity, fast response, and good selectivity are required to obtain viable meaningful information. This chapter presents an overview of how functionalization enhances the electrochemical properties of electrochemical sensors obtained from carbon nanomaterials, metallic nanoparticles, and metallic oxide nanoparticles. The authors also explain how exactly the nanomaterials and nanoparticles interact, upon functionalization using molecules targeting the analytes of interest or substances with high specificity and fast signal response. Finally, challenges and prospects in the fabrications of electrochemical sensors were also presented in this chapter.
Chapter
In modern science, however, applied animal behavior is a remarkably new field. Animal machines created such a strong public reaction that the British government set up a technical committee to investigate the welfare of farm animals. Animal behavior has been applied in efforts to reduce harm to animals caused by human actions. One of the major applications of animal behavior is the design of better environments for captive, farmed, and laboratory animals, partly for the practical goal of making the environments function better, and partly to improve the welfare of the animals that live in them. The animals' welfare is presumably improved because they show little fear of people and a less pronounced physiological stress response to handling. Many concerns about animal welfare are primarily concerns about the affective states of animals—their “emotions,” “feelings,” and other pleasant or unpleasant experiences. Abnormal animal behavior has provided a strong stimulus to understand affective states of animals.
Article
Background Children with advanced cancer and their primary caregivers may experience severe stress and anxiety in coping with their life-threatening condition. As a way to help reduce these stressors and increase overall quality of life, research suggests that animal-assisted interactions may be beneficial when integrated into palliative care. Aims This pilot study aims to provide evidence for the feasibility and efficacy of a randomised clinical trial using animal-assisted interactions to help improve the quality of life for children with an advanced life-threatening condition and their primary caregivers. This protocol paper outlines the basis of the research, goals, experimental design and methodology.
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Major life events, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, affect psychological and physiological health. Social support, or the lack thereof, can modulate these effects. The context of the COVID-19 pandemic offered a unique opportunity to better understand how dogs may provide social support for their owners and buffer heightened symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression and contribute to happiness during a major global crisis. Participants (768 pet dog owners and 767 potential pet dog owners) answered an online survey, including validated depression, anxiety, happiness psychometric scales, attitude to and commitment towards pet, and perceived social support. Potential pet dog owners were defined as individuals who did not own a dog at the time of the survey but would be very or extremely interested in owning one in the future. Dog owners reported having significantly more social support available to them compared to potential dog owners, and their depression scores were also lower, compared to potential dog owners. There were no differences in anxiety and happiness scores between the two groups. Dog owners had a significantly more positive attitude towards and commitment to pets. Taken together, our results suggest that dog ownership may have provided people with a stronger sense of social support, which in turn may have helped buffer some of the negative psychological impacts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
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A 10-month prospective study was carried out which examined changes in behaviour and health status in 71 adult subjects following the acquisition of a new pet (either dogs or cats). A group of 26 subjects without pets served as a comparison over the same period. Both pet-owning groups reported a highly significant reduction in minor health problems during the first month following pet acquisition, and this effect was sustained in dog owners through to 10 months. The pet-acquiring groups also showed improvements in their scores on the 30-item General Health Questionnaire over the first 6 months and, in dog owners, this improvement was maintained until 10 months. In addition, dog owners took considerably more physical exercise while walking their dogs than the other two groups, and this effect continued throughout the period of study. The group without pets exhibited no statistically significant changes in health or behaviour, apart from a small increase in recreational walking. The results provide evidence that pet acquisition may have positive effects on human health and behaviour, and that in some cases these effects are relatively long term.
Chapter
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Animal-assisted activities and animal-assisted therapy are typically considered in settings where the contact with the animal is scheduled, often for a person in a residential facility. This chapter asserts that a full-time relationship with an animal offers greater potential to enhance the person's life and that most compatible relationships with animals afford benefits to the person and animal. Thus, the entire range of companionship with animals, from ordinary pet through assistance animal, can be examined in a therapeutic context. Topics discussed include the effect of community context on the human-animal relationship, pets enhancing the quality of life, the normalizing effects of animals, and individuality in responses to animals. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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It is generally assumed that social support has a favorable impact on the maintenance of health and on coping with illness. However, results are inconsistent and even conflicting. This is partly due to conceptual and methodological shortcomings. In order to overcome these problems and to guide further research, we present a taxonomy of social relationships and a causal process model. Social integration, cognitive social support and behavioral social support are distinguished and related to personality, stress, coping and the pathogenic process. In the causal model we propose that social support is depicted both as mediating the effects of stress on illness as well as directly affecting illness. A meta analysis was conducted that related social support and social integration to morbidity and mortality based on eighty empirical studies, including more than 60,000 subjects. Data subsets revealed disparate patterns of results that give rise to intriguing theoretical questions. Evidently, social support operates in complex ways. Several causal models are specified which represent alternative pathways of social support processes. Where social support was associated with less illness, a direct effect model was proposed. In cases where more support was seemingly paradoxically associated with illness it is assumed that a mobilization of support has taken place. In conclusion, some recent research examples that help illustrate future directions untangling the social support-illness relationship are presented.
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The effect on anxiety of petting an animal and the underlying mechanisms of such an effect were examined by a repeated-measures, within-session experiment with 58 non-clinical participants. Participants were exposed to a stressful situation in the laboratory – the presence of a Tarantula spider, which they were told they might be asked to hold – and then randomly assigned to one of five groups: petting a rabbit, a turtle, a toy rabbit, a toy turtle or to a control group. Participants’ attitudes towards animals were measured as potential moderators. State-anxiety was assessed at baseline, after the stress manipulation, and after the experimental manipulation. The main findings showed that petting an animal reduced state-anxiety. This effect could not be attributed to the petting per se, since it was observed only with animals and not with matched toys. The anxiety-reducing effect of petting an animal applied to both the soft cuddly animals and the hard-shelled ones. The anxiety-reducing effect applied to people with different attitudes towards animals and was not restricted to animal lovers. The discussion addresses possible emotional and cognitive foundations of the observed effects and their implications.
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This retrospective study of people in wheelchairs who have service dogs reports their experiences with strangers in public before and after obtaining their dogs. The specific hypothesis tested was that the acquisition of a service dog would increase the number of friendly approaches by strangers. Subjects reported a significantly higher number of social greetings from adults and children on typical shopping trips with the dog as compared with those received on trips before they had the dog or with recent trips when the dog was not present. Subjects with service dogs reported more approaches than a control group without dogs. After obtaining dogs, subjects also increased their evening outings.
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The human-animal relationship frequently involves physical touch, and this may have benefits for both participants. Grooming of horses at the withers has a calming effect on recipients, a phenomenon regularly used to reward horses. No studies on the effect on heart rate of grooming in different anatomical areas have been conducted in dogs, even though they are often given physical contact as a putative reinforcer. Kennelled Greyhounds (n = 16) and guide dogs (Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers and their crosses, n = 12) were stroked for eight minutes using a grooming device in each of four areas in random order. These sites were selected on the basis of their being innervated by the dorsal branches of the spinal nerves, lateral branches of the spinal nerves, ventral branches of the spinal nerves and the caudal nerves. Heart rate measurements were taken every 30 seconds using an ECG recorder. There were no observed differences in the mean heart rate based on the region of the body groomed (p = 0.893), nor was any interaction of any other factor with area of the body significant (all p > 0.5). However, for all dogs, there was a highly significant trend (overall reduction) over time (p < 0.001), and Greyhounds had consistently higher mean heart rates than guide dogs (p < 0.001). Within Greyhounds, groomed dogs had significantly lower mean heart rates than non-groomed animals (n = 8, p = 0.003). That is, grooming had a substantial effect on reducing heat rate, but the area of the body where grooming was conducted was not important. In addition, males had consistently lower heart rates than females (p < 0.001). If having a reduced heart rate is a sign of reduced stress, then we can assume that non-invasive interventions that have this effect are reinforcing. The extent to which all dogs are reinforced by physical contact depends on their socialization and familiarity with personnel. The intrinsic reinforcing value of physical contact for dogs seems likely to be outweighed by its effect as a secondary reinforcer.
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This paper explores the effect of peoples' association with guide dogs on how they understand and feel about themselves and how they are regarded by those with whom they interact. The concepts of personal, collective, and social identity are used to situate the discussion. Of central importance is the way working with a guide dog shapes public interaction and how owner' self definitions and social identities are extended by being intimately involved in the owner-dog team. (C) 2000 International Society for Anthrozoology.
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In order to examine pet ownership and pet attachment as factors supporting the health of the elderly, a national probability sample of Americans 65 years of age and older was drawn. Participants answered telephone survey questions regarding pet ownership, life stress, social support, depression, and recent illness. In multiple regression analyses, pet ownership failed to predict depression and illness behavior, while pet attachment significantly predicted depression but not illness experience. In a group with particularly great distress (the bereaved), pet ownership and strong attachment were significantly associated with less depression only when the number of available confidants was minimal.
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The purpose of this study was to examine the psychotherapeutic effect of riding therapy (RT) on a group of adult users of a social services mental health team in South Devon. The benefits of animal-assisted therapy (AAT) and pet ownership on human health and well-being are well documented. However, whilst research has been conducted on the benefits of hippotherapy (the employment of horse riding as a physiotherapeutic aid) little has been undertaken on the psychotherapeutic benefits of riding therapy. Through case studies, the current study sought to explore whether the participants benefited in terms of confidence, increased self-esteem and social/interaction skills. A further objective was to find out whether these benefits, if identified, were transferable to other areas of the riders' lives. The study was conducted utilizing a case study, participant observational methodology following the progress of six women with various mental health problems receiving RT on a weekly basis. The sessions comprised of learning to look after the horses and carrying out stable management tasks, in addition to the riding; the chief instructor was aware that an important factor of the RT was building up a relationship and trust with the horses on the ground. Methods employed to record the sessions, apart from participant observation, included interviews and questionnaires. The prime objective of the study was for the riders' experience of the therapy to be expressed in their own words. It was found that the participants benefited in areas ranging from increased confidence and self-concept, and that the therapy aided social stimulation and led to transferable skills being acquired.
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Describes a program that permitted 20 state-prison inmates to keep pets. The physiological and behavioral effects of this contact and the effect of pet possession on the frequency and severity of disciplinary offenses were examined retrospectively. The presence of a pet did not affect the rise in blood pressure (BP) associated with talking to the experimenters. However, BP during interaction with the pet was always lower than BP during conversation with the experimenters. Pet ownership had a small effect on the number, but not the severity, of disciplinary offenses. It is concluded that this pet program provided valuable recreation for Ss but had only small and inconsistent effects on antisocial behavior. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Book
The original edition was the first book to provide a comprehensive overview of the ways in which animals can assist therapists with treatment of specific populations, and/or in specific settings. The second edition continues in this vein, with 7 new chapters plus substantial revisions of continuing chapters as the research in this field has grown. New coverage includes: Animals as social supports, Use of AAT with Special Needs students, the role of animals in the family- insights for clinicians, and measuring the animal-person bond. *Contributions from veterinarians, animal trainers, psychologists, and social workers *Includes guidelines and best practices for using animals as therapeutic companions *Addresses specific types of patients and environmental situations.
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Psychological Bulletin (Burman & Margolin, 1992), Science (House, Landis, & Umberson, 1988), and a lot of grandmothers attest to the impact that relationships have on health, illness, and subjective well-being. This apparent fact has spawned a great deal of research directed at understanding the role of social support: Database searches of just a 5-year period, using the keywords social support, recently yielded 2,508 citations from PsycInfo and 1,321 from Medline.
Article
A solution is suggested for an old unresolved social psychological problem.
Article
Although the socializing role of dogs for people has been well documented, the effectiveness of less active animals in precipitating social interactions is not known. This study examined whether a rabbit or a turtle when accompanied by a young woman confederate sitting in a park would attract unfamiliar adults and children and result in social interchange. For comparison, the woman also sat blowing bubbles or with an operating television set. Behaviors of the approaching adults and children were noted, and conversations were tape recorded. Social approaches were frequent when the woman was sitting with the rabbit or blowing bubbles, were numerous when she was sitting with the turtle, and were virtually absent when she was watching television. The rabbit attracted the most adults. Approaching adults and children talked primarily about the stimulus and themselves and made few references to the confederate. In a friendly community setting and without special effort or obvious need by the confederate, unobtrusive animals evoked social approaches and conversations from unfamiliar adults and children.
Article
Evidence of chemical markers for melanoma in blood and urine suggests that volatile chemicals might be released from melanoma cells (on the skin surface) in amounts sufficient to allow early diagnosis. When tested using methods normally used in canine olfactory detection of drugs and explosives, two dogs demonstrated reliable localization of melanoma tissue samples hidden on the skin of healthy volunteers. One dog (A) then “confirmed” clinically suspected (and subsequently biopsy-proven) diagnoses of melanoma in five patients. In a sixth patient, this dog “reported” melanoma at a skin location for which initial pathological examination was negative, despite clinical suspicion. More thorough histopathological examination in this individual then confirmed melanoma in a fraction of the cells. In a seventh patient, in whom neither dog nor dermatologist provided a definitive response, melanoma was detected by histopathological examination. Dog B searched four of these seven patients; in each case, responses agreed with those of dog A. These findings warrant further study of the conditions under which detection of melanoma might be enhanced by the biological or non-biological detection of volatile chemicals emanating from skin lesions.
Article
Three nursing homes in the Brisbane area took part in the study. The Moreton Bay Nursing Care Unit (20 females, 11 males) had a visiting dog (each week), the Returned Services League War Veterans Home (24 females, eight males) had a resident dog and the Wheeler Garden Settlement (25 females, seven males) the visiting researcher only (control). A desexed female whippet, 11 months old was used in this study.Tension and confusion were reduced in the nursing home with a resident dog (x2 = 21.18, d.f. = 10, P = 0.02; x2 = 35.42, d.f. = 10, P = 0.0001, respectively).The resident dog group showed significant decreases in depression (x2 = 31.19, d.f. = 10, P = 0.0005) as did the control group (x2 = 29.8, d.f. = 10, P = 0.0009; x2 = 23.4, d.f. = 10, P = 0.009).Significant increases in vigour were found in all three nursing homes (visiting dog, x2 = 43.91, d.f. = 10, P = 0.0005; resident dog, x2 = 42.92, d.f. = 10, P = 0.0005; control, x2 = 38.52, d.f. = 10, P = 0.0005).Fatigue decreased significantly in the visiting and resident dog groups (x2 = 21.58, d.f. = 10, P = 0.02; x2 = 19.45, d.f. = 10, P = 0.03, respectively).This long-term study indicates that there are many benefits from having a resident dog in a nursing home. However, if this is not an option, visiting dogs and/or visiting people improve the lives of nursing home residents.
Article
Interest is growing in establishing animal-facilitated programs in prisons. Although food animals have been maintained by prisons for years, few have looked at the benefits inmates derive from working with animals. Recently, prisons have started dog and horse training programs. Preliminary evidence indicates that inmates benefit, learning life-enhancing skills and lowering the recidivism rates. Shelter dogs and wild horses trained by the prisoners help people with physical and emotional needs. State and federal funds are needed to further study the benefits derived for prisoners, animals, and society.
Article
The evidence that people form strong attachments with their pets is briefly reviewed before identifying the characteristics of such relationships, which include pets being a source of security as well as the objects of caregiving. In evolutionary terms, pet ownership poses a problem, since attachment and devoting resources to another species are, in theory, fitness-reducing. Three attempts to account for pet keeping are discussed, as are the problems with these views. Pet keeping is placed into the context of other forms of interspecific associations. From this, an alternative Darwinian explanation is proposed: pets are viewed as manipulating human responses that had evolved to facilitate human relationships, primarily (but not exclusively) those between parent and child. The precise mechanisms that enable pets to elicit caregiving from humans are elaborated. They involve features that provide the initial attraction, such as neotenous characteristics, and those that enable the human owner to derive continuing satisfaction from interacting with the pet, such as the attribution of mental processes to human-like organisms. These mechanisms can, in some circumstances, cause pet owners to derive more satisfaction from their pet relationship than those with humans, because they supply a type of unconditional relationship that is usually absent from those with other human beings.
Article
An expectancy-based explanation of social performance that focuses on the valence of evaluation that is anticipated from an audience was presented and tested. As was predicted, an interaction between a subject's performance ex- pectations and whether he or she performed alone or in the presence of an evaluative audience was found. Subjects expecting to perform successfully an- ticipated a positive evaluation from an audience, resulting in improved perfor- mance over subjects working alone. Conversely, when subjects expected to perform poorly a negative evaluation was anticipated from an audience, although in the overall analysis social performance decrements did not reach significance. However, a comparison with a performance baseline condition. and a reanalysis of data from subjects who did not receive preliminary performance feedback, indicated that both social facilitation and impairment effects were evident. Results are discussed in terms of an expectancy-based explanation of social performance.
Article
The present study sought to determine whether attachment to companion animals is significantly related to the physical and psychological well-being of older women. Network resources, network interactions, and perceived support available to the subjects were assessed and various health factors were measured for a sample of 53 elderly women. The average respondent was 73 years old and had one pet. Half were living alone. The women living alone were older, used more social services, and reported more doctor visits and use of over-the-counter medicines than did those living with others. While the sample is small for a multivariate study, a pilot analysis was undertaken. No relationship was found between pet attachment and feelings of depression, and pet variables had relatively little impact on psychological or physical wellbeing. The authors conclude that these data should not be interpreted as saying that pets are not important for some owners but that, even among this group of attached pet owners, there was not a strong enough effect of the pet to reach group significance. This group was a small, highly selected sample that may have been too homogeneous, and/or the self-report measures may lack the sensitivity to detect differences.
Article
This study investigated the effects of animal-assisted therapy (A-AT) on self-reported depression in a college population. Forty-four participants were selected on the basis of scores on the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI). They then were assigned to one of three groups: A-AT in conjunction with psychotherapy (directive group), A-AT only (nondirective group), and control. Standardized regressed BDI posttest scores were used as dependent variables in one-way analysis of variance with treatment as the independent variable. Results revealed significant differences among groups, F(2,41)=3.69, p<.05. Duncan's Multiple Ranges Test indicated that standardized regressed BDI post-test scores differed significantly between nondirective (M=5.67) and control groups (M=10.18).
Article
Research suggests that dogs can facilitate social interactions, which, in turn, may promote psychological health. This study explored the ability of dogs to facilitate social responses relative to other accompaniments and investigated whether the social catalysis effect is generic or influenced by the appearance of the dog. The behavior of 1800 pedestrians approaching a female experimenter was recorded as a function of the presence of three dogs (Labrador Retriever pup, Labrador adult, Rottweiler adult) and two neutral stimuli (teddy bear, potted plant). The behavior of pedestrians approaching the woman whenever she was alone (control) was also explored. Information was collected on the passers-by' gender, number of people in the party, type of acknowledgement elicited and length of conversations. More people ignored the experimenter whenever she was alone or with the teddy or plant, than whenever she was walking a dog. The Rottweiler resulted in more nonresponses than the puppy or adult Labrador, who in turn elicited more smiles and verbal responses. Females, and those alone, elicited more smiles and conversations than males, or those in pairs. It is concluded that dogs can facilitate social interactions between adults better than other accompaniments; however, the social catalysis effect is not generic, but dog specific.
Article
This study tested directly the hypothesis that the mere presence of a person's pet dog produces health benefits by reducing cardiovascular arousal-induced stress. We administered mental arithmetic problems and TAT cards to 32 normotensive dog-owning college students. Half were tested with their dogs present. Dependent measures were heart rate and systolic, diastolic, and mean arterial blood pressure, recorded continuously. ANOVAs revealed that mental arithmetic and TAT tasks caused significant increases in all cardiovascular measures, with no difference between dog-present and dog-absent groups. In addition, there were no significant correlations among cardiovascular responses, pet attitudes, and Type A status measured by the Jenkins Activity Survey. Although these results were negative, we recommend stronger tests of the stress-reducing effect of pet presence using larger clinically hypertensive samples and an own-control experimental design.
Article
Researchers have discovered that companion animals can physically and psychologically benefit their owners, and some argue that one's attachment to a companion animal influences those benefits. However, those studying the human-companion animal bond have used measures of attachment that may not be congruent with the school of attachment theory as it is applied to human-human relationships. We propose that the term "attachment" applied to human-companion animal relationships in research to date may share aspects of traditional attachment theory, but does not necessarily parallel attachment theory accurately. This paper provides a discussion of the similarities and differences between traditional attachment theory and measurements of human-companion animal attachment, and a review of the literature on physical and psychological benefits derived from companion animals. We conclude with a brief discussion of new research and future directions.
Article
Using Internet survey data from 2,291 respondents from the United States, we examined socio-demographic predictors of living with a cat or dog. Logistic regressions showed that, for men, being married, living with children, being Midwestern and non-urban increased odds of living with a pet. For women, being White, having a high income, living with children, and living in a rural setting increased odds for pet ownership. Multivariate analyses examining influences of gender, marital status, and pet ownership on depression (CES-D) scores, adjusting for potential confounders, revealed that unmarried women who live with a pet have the fewest depressive symptoms, and unmarried men who live with a pet have the most. These findings suggest that single women benefit from pet companionship, whereas single men may be burdened by it.
Article
Social stimulation is a valuable aspect of therapeutic activities at long-term care facilities, designed to decrease social isolation, maintain or stimulate mental abilities, and increase awareness of the external environment. A study was undertaken at two such facilities to compare the effectiveness of Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) with Non-Animal Therapy (NAT) at providing social stimulation, that is, at providing opportunities for patients to engage in social interaction and to initiate social behaviors. While studies have indicated that AAT can improve resident outlook or affect, few have directly studied the social behaviors that might lead to such improvements, or the role the animals themselves might play. We observed 33 patients, both alert and semi- to non-alert, during regular recreational therapy sessions. Most patients were women (29 vs. four men), and geriatric (in their 70's and 80's). Non-Animal Therapies included Arts and Crafts and Snack Bingo, while AAT involved animals from local animal shelters being brought by volunteers to group sessions. Social behaviors naturally divided into Brief Conversations, Long Conversations, and Touch. We determined frequencies and rates of the behaviors, who initiated the behaviors and whether the behaviors were directed at other people or at the animals. Overall, during AAT residents were involved in as much or more conversation with others, including the animals, as residents in Non-Animal Therapy, and were more likely to initiate and participate in longer conversations. The finding that different kinds of therapies seem to encourage different kinds of conversation might be an important consideration when investigating health benefits. The most dramatic differences between therapy types were found in rates of touch: touching the animals during AAT added significantly to resident engagement in, and initiation of, this behavior. Since touch is considered an important part of social stimulation and therapy, the enhancement of this social behavior by the animals is an important, and perhaps undervalued, effect.
Article
Experimental group members watched a fish aquarium or a fish videotape, while control group members viewed a placebo videotape. Three eight-minute treatment sessions were held one week apart. Members of all three groups perceived their treatments as relaxing. Aquarium observers tended to experience a decrease in pulse rate and muscle tension and an increase in skin temperature. Theoretical and practical implications of the results and ideas for further research are discussed.
Article
This study re-evaluated the Companion Animal Bonding Scale (Poresky, Hendrix, Mosier and Samuelson 1987) using a wide range of developmental levels. Participants included 714 individuals (284 boys and 430 girls) from fourth grade to undergraduate college status. The elementary, middle, and high school students were enrolled in a public school system in a large metropolitan area and the college students were enrolled in a medium size state university. The sample included 600 Caucasians and 114 members of other ethnic groups. Only responses from current pet owners (n=610) were included in data analysis. Analysis of the Companion Animal Bonding Scale revealed three factors related to human-animal attachment: (1) emotional bond/affectional tie, (2) physical proximity, and (3) caretaking. The caretaking factor found in this study differs from the third factor (animal responsiveness and autonomy) reported by Poresky et al. (1987). The three factors in this study also differ somewhat from those reported by Poresky (1997). The results of this study are discussed within the context of attachment theory.
Article
The psychological and cardiovascular influence of a friendly, unfamiliar dog on a group of 17 male students was compared to a group of men (19) who did not have access to the dog, during a stressor. Blood pressure and heart rate were measured during 4 test conditions (rest, preparation, speech task, recovery). State-anxiety was measured before and after the preparation and speech task. Subjects from the experimental group(E) but not from the control group(C) interacted with a dog during the preparation and speech tasks. The preparation and speech tasks caused statistically significant increases in cardiovascular parameters (blood pressure, heart rate) (F(12,22) = 17.60; p = 0.000), and state-anxiety (E-group: ¯xsta1 = 29.8; ¯xsta 2 = 47.9; t = -6.12; df = 16; p = 0.000, C-group: ¯xsta1 = 31.4; ¯xsta2 = 47,0; t = -5.68; df = 18; p = 0.000). No significant differences were found between the control and the experimental group with regard to state-anxiety anxiety (¯xc =15.6; ¯xe =-18.2; t = 0.63; df = 34; p = 0.533), blood pressure and heart rate (F(4,30) = 1.18; p = 0.338), even after controlling for the effects of daily stress (F(4,29) =1.427; p = 0.250). It is concluded that a friendly but unfamiliar dog has no significant psychological or cardiovascular effect on male students during a speech task in a laboratory setting. Possibly the stress of the speech task and the laboratory setting overrided the influence of the pet.
Article
Physiological arousal and behavioral distress in children aged from two to six years undergoing a physical examination were examined with and without the presence of a companion dog. An experimental/control group, repeated measures design was utilized to study children at a pediatric clinic. Thirty-four (14 males, 20 females) children were assigned randomly either to a treatment group (n=15) in which a therapy dog was present during their examinations or to a control group (n=19) which had the usual pediatric exam without a dog present. Physiological variables (systolic, diastolic, and mean arterial pressures, heart rate, and fingertip temperatures) were measured at baseline and at two-minute intervals during each examination. Subjects were videotaped during the examination for analysis of behavioral distress using the Observation Scale of Behavioral Distress (OSBD). Physiological measurements were not statistically significantly different between the dog and no-dog groups but were found not to be good measures of physiologic arousal in this age group. There was statistically significantly less behavioral distress when the dog was present (M=0.06 in the dog group versus 0.27 in the no-dog group: F(1,32)=4.90, p=0.034). These findings replicate those of Nagengast et al. (1997) who found that the presence of a companion dog could lower the behavioral distress of children during a laboratory simulated physical examination and suggest that companion animals may be useful in a variety of health care settings to decrease procedure-induced distress in children.
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A Pets as Therapy [PAT] program was initiated in a women's prison to train companion dogs for the elderly and individuals with disabilities. The effect on the trainers was studied using an established depression scale and a self-esteem inventory. Results showed significant group changes in both these areas.
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Research has shown that certain populations such as nursing home patients and physically ill patients have benefited psychologically from pet ownership. Recent studies have indicated that the relationship between pet ownership and well-being may be complex. We examined the relationship between pet ownership and emotional distress among working women. We also studied the relationship between pet attachment and emotional distress. Participants were 42 cat and/or dog owners and 42 nonowners who were women employees of the American Medical Association. Each completed an inventory on depression, anxiety, and anger. Pet owners also completed a scale to assess degree of attachment to the pet. Results revealed that there were no significant differences between owners and nonowners on any of the measures and that pet attachment was not associated with any of the measures. When compared with national norms, results indicated that pet owners from the present study were significantly more attached to their pets. We concluded that pet ownership may be less therapeutic for working women because they may have insufficient time to spend with their pets that would result in therapeutic effects.
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Despite the widespread ownership of pet animals in American families, there is very little analysis of the role of pets in child development. This paper will examine the influence of pet animals on child development; the impact of pet loss and bereavement on children; the problem of child cruelty to animals and its relationship to child abuse; and the role of pets in both normal and disturbed families. The authors will also review their own research study of adult prisoners and juveniles in institutions in regard to their experiences with pet animals.
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150 boys and 150 girls between the ages of 3 and 13 yrs were individually interviewed using a series of open-ended questions to analyze the Ss' attitudes toward their pets. It was hypothesized that (1) the cognitive elements would progress from preoperational to concrete operations at 7 yrs of age and to formal operations at 13 yrs of age, (2) the affective elements would progress from egocentricity to empathy and perspective taking, and (3) behavioral elements would progress from dependence on situational cues to caring behavior based on realistically assessed characteristics of pets. Although data support the 2nd and 3rd hypotheses, the cognitive elements progressed only from preoperational to concrete operations. There was no evidence that the 13-yr-olds had entered the formal operations stage. Other data indicate that 90% owned pets but 99.3% wanted pets, a significant indication of children's overall positive attitude toward pets. (40 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
It is commonly suggested that the principal function of allogrooming is to reduce social tension between group members, but direct evidence of the physiological consequences of grooming at particular sites is lacking. By filming allogrooming sequences in a herd of Camargue horses, Equus caballus , their preferred grooming site, which lies on the lower neck, was identified. Experimental imitation of grooming at this site reduced the heart rate of the recipient while grooming on a non-preferred area did not, in both adults and foals. This preferred site lies close to a major ganglion of the autonomic nervous system.