Next Article in Journal
Effects of Concentrate and Bypass Fat Supplementations on Growth Performance, Blood Profile, and Rearing Cost of Feedlot Buffaloes
Next Article in Special Issue
Companion Animals as Buffer against the Impact of Stress on Affect: An Experience Sampling Study
Previous Article in Journal
An N-ethyl-N-Nitrosourea Mutagenesis Screen in Mice Reveals a Mutation in Nuclear Respiratory Factor 1 (Nrf1) Altering the DNA Methylation State and Correct Embryonic Development
Previous Article in Special Issue
What Helps Oiled Wildlife Responders Care for Animals While Minimizing Stress and Compassion Fatigue
Article

Dog Tales: Mindful Dog Interactions Evoke Similar Experiences to Dog Assisted Mindfulness Meditations

1
School of Psychological Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, Monash University, Melbourne 3800, Australia
2
College of Healthcare Science, James Cook University, Townsville 4811, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Polly Yeung and Emanuela Prato-Previde
Animals 2021, 11(7), 2104; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11072104
Received: 30 May 2021 / Revised: 28 June 2021 / Accepted: 13 July 2021 / Published: 15 July 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Human Mental Health: Human–Animal Interaction)
As humans went into lockdown in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, so did their pets. The resulting loss of human freedoms can be an important reflection point for standard pet keeping practices. This study evaluated the feasibility and effectiveness of two six-week interventions that owners can complete with their pet dogs from the safety and comfort of their homes, designed to enhance the wellbeing of both parties. One was a dog-assisted mindfulness intervention, whereby participants would sit quietly with their dog and listen to a mindfulness recording, using a feature of their dog as their object of focus, e.g., their dog’s fur. The other was a dog interactions intervention, whereby participants spent at least 7 min of undivided attention interacting with their dog in different ways each week. Common experiences were reported across the two interventions including: enhanced owner–dog connection, and feelings of relaxation, happiness and engagement both during and after participating in the weekly activities. Additionally, ‘dog happiness’ was commonly reported in the dog interactions group. Using our own experiences of being “locked down” as a reference point, this study offers two novel ways in which owners can attempt to enrich the lives of their dogs at home.
Stay-at-home regulations in response to COVID-19 have put humans at increased risk of loneliness. Some studies support dog ownership as a protection against loneliness, while other studies have suggested the lockdowns can be used to reflect upon the similar restrictions owners impose on their pets on a daily basis. This study evaluated two novel ways to enrich the lives of pet dogs in the home, while also providing benefits to owners. It was hypothesized that a six-week Dog Assisted Mindfulness (DAM) intervention and a Dog Interactions (DI) intervention would positively impact owner-rated loneliness, mindfulness, and owner–dog emotional attachment, compared to a control group. Seventy-three participants were randomly assigned to each group. Mixed methods ANOVAs found no significant main effects of group, nor any group × time interaction effects. Qualitative analyses revealed common experiences among participants in the two active interventions, including enhanced owner–dog connection, and feelings of relaxation, happiness and engagement both during and after participating in the weekly activities. There was also an added benefit of ‘dog happiness’ in the interactions group. Future studies should investigate this in a more objective manner and in the meantime, regular owner–dog interactions should be encouraged, especially during times of extended lockdown. View Full-Text
Keywords: dog; mindfulness; meditation; COVID-19; AAI; interactions; loneliness; owner; pet dog; mindfulness; meditation; COVID-19; AAI; interactions; loneliness; owner; pet
MDPI and ACS Style

Oliva, J.L.; Green, T.R. Dog Tales: Mindful Dog Interactions Evoke Similar Experiences to Dog Assisted Mindfulness Meditations. Animals 2021, 11, 2104. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11072104

AMA Style

Oliva JL, Green TR. Dog Tales: Mindful Dog Interactions Evoke Similar Experiences to Dog Assisted Mindfulness Meditations. Animals. 2021; 11(7):2104. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11072104

Chicago/Turabian Style

Oliva, Jessica L., and Tim R. Green 2021. "Dog Tales: Mindful Dog Interactions Evoke Similar Experiences to Dog Assisted Mindfulness Meditations" Animals 11, no. 7: 2104. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11072104

Find Other Styles
Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Article Access Map by Country/Region

1
Back to TopTop