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The Effects of Tactile and Indirect Contact with Dogs in a College Population

By Kalina Welch

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To assess how physiological stress response is affected by human-canine interactions, one hundred-thirty (n=130) Carroll College students in Helena, Montana participated in trials designed to measure blood pressure, respiratory rate, heart rate, and galvanic skin response (GSR) in low- and high-stress environments. Perceptual response to stress was also measured. Participants completed trials either without a dog, with a dog present but without physical or verbal interaction, or while maintaining contact with a dog. It was hypothesized that participants with direct physical contact with the dog would experience the least physiological change related to stress response. A multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) revealed that while physiological responses were similar in all groups, there was a statistically significant decrease in the perception of stress in the tactile contact group when compared to the group with no dog present (p = .02). Though results did not support the hypothesis, further review of the literature reveals indications that human-canine interactions may affect psychological stress management in similar ways as physical exercise does.


Mason N McLary

HABRI Central

Date 2012
Pages 23
Publisher Carroll College
Location of Publication Helena, MT
Department Psychology
Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal-assisted activities
  2. Animal-assisted therapies
  3. Animal roles
  4. Animals in culture
  5. contact
  6. Dogs
  7. Health
  8. Human-animal interactions
  9. Mammals
  10. Pets and companion animals
  11. Physical environment
  12. Schools
  13. Social Environments
  14. Stress
  15. touch
  16. Universities and Colleges