Dog Tales: Mindful Dog Interactions Evoke Similar Experiences to Dog Assisted Mindfulness Meditations
School of Psychological Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, Monash University, Melbourne 3800, Australia
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
Received: 30 May 2021 / Revised: 28 June 2021 / Accepted: 13 July 2021 / Published: 15 July 2021
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.