People.com Lifestyle Pets Study Uses Science to Confirm That Cuddling a Dog Is Good for Your Health The study's lead author Dr. John-Tyler Binfet explained that canine-assisted intervention programs are "a surefire way to reduce stress" By Glenn Garner Glenn Garner Instagram Twitter Glenn Garner is a Weekends Writer/Reporter who works heavily with PEOPLE's Movies and TV verticals. Since graduating from Northern Arizona University with a dual major in journalism and photography he got his professional start at OUT Magazine The Advocate and Teen Vogue and he's since consistently kept his finger on the pulse of the LGBTQ community. His first book The Guncle Guide was released in 2020 and was featured on Katie Couric's list of 100 recommended books of the year." People Editorial Guidelines Published on August 17, 2021 05:49 PM Share Tweet Pin Email Photo: Getty Anyone who owns a dog knows that a little belly rub goes a long way. And it turns out, cuddling a dog is proven to benefit a person's wellbeing, according to a study conducted by the University of British Columbia Okanagan. The school's education program assessed the mental state of 284 undergraduate students before and after they met with a service dog from their Building Academic Retention Through K-9s (BARK) program. "There have been a number of studies that have found canine-assisted interventions significantly improve participants' wellbeing, but there has been little research into what interactions provide the greatest benefits," the study's lead author Dr. John-Tyler Binfet said in a statement. "We know that spending time with therapy dogs is beneficial, but we didn't know why." South Carolina Man Wrestles Alligator to Save His Dog: 'Wrong Place at the Wrong Time' Participants were randomly assigned to one of three treatment conditions: canine interaction treatment conditions, touch or no touch canine interaction, or a handler-only condition where no dog was present. Researchers asked participating students before and after the interactions to measure their self-perceptions of flourishing, positive and negative affect, social connectedness, happiness, integration into the campus community, stress, homesickness, and loneliness. "Results indicate that participants across all conditions experienced enhanced wellbeing on several measures; however, only those in the direct contact condition reported significant improvements on all measures of wellbeing," the study states. "Additionally, direct interactions with therapy dogs through touch elicited greater wellbeing benefits than did no touch/indirect interactions or interactions with only a dog handler." RELATED VIDEO: Service Dog Tries to Chomp Down on Sprinkler Water Binfet recommends other schools consider canine-assisted intervention programs, along with mental health and wellness programs. The program should be particularly beneficial as students prepare to return to in-person learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic. "As students potentially return to in-person class on their college campuses this fall and seek ways to keep their stress in check, I'd encourage them to take advantage of the therapy dog visitation program offered. And once there — be sure to make time for a canine cuddle," Dr. Binfet said. "That's a surefire way to reduce stress."