Feeling lonely? A dog may help. Our research confirms what many dog owners already know: dogs are great companions that can help you to feel less lonely. Cuddles and slobbery kisses, meeting other dog owners in the park and a general lift in mood all likely help.
But our study, published this week in BMC Public Health, found dogs didn’t affect psychological distress, the type seen in depression and anxiety.
Most previous studies have compared the mental well-being of dog owners to non-owners at a single point in time. The problem with these studies is they cannot tell if dogs actually make us happier, less lonely or less stressed. They also cannot tell us if dog owners are simply in a more positive state of mind in the first place.
So, in this study, we measured mental well-being at three points in time: before owning a dog, three months after owning a dog and eight months after owning a dog.
What did we do?
Our study, known as the PAWS trial, involved 71 Sydney adults who were separated into three groups:
people who bought a dog within one month of starting the study
people who were interested in getting a dog in the near future but agreed not to get one during the study, and
people who had no interest in getting a dog.
People filled out surveys to measure their mood, loneliness and symptoms of psychological distress at the three different time-points. We then compared the mental well-being of the groups at the beginning of the study, to the mid-point and to the end-point.
Here’s what we found
New dog owners felt less lonely after they got a dog compared to the other two groups. The effect happened quite quickly, within three months of acquiring a dog. There was no further decrease in loneliness between three months and eight months.
Over a year after it was first announced, Disney+ is finally arriving next week in Australia, and is full of cartoons, superheroes, and space wizards for you to gawk at. Last week, Gizmodo got a chance to check out the new streaming service app in its final form and speak with the team behind Disney+’s launch.
When trawling through a Formula One paddock very briefly for the first time back in 2015, my first thought (after I got over the glamour of it all) was, my God there are a lot of tires here. Each team had stacks of tires lined up outside of their garage. Tires were being carted from a giant tent dedicated to fitting them onto rims off to their final destination. After a session, it was impossible to walk anywhere without ducking out of the way to avoid a puddle left by someone washing a tire, or a Pirelli engineer running off somewhere with rack of them.