Does the company of a pet dog change our judgement of negative events or increase our tolerance to negative situations?

It is common to hear from pet owners that they feel attached to their pets. Also, they oftenly describe positive feelings in most interactions with them and view their presence as a kind of social support in difficult situations. The results reported in a recent study published by Pet Behaviour Science (DOI:

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In this study, they evaluated the effects of the presence of a pet dog during an auditory aversive stimulation. Eighteen undergraduate college students, that were either pet owners or not, were instructed to listen to annoying noises for as long as they found bearable in three different situation: without any distractors available; with a book of paintings as a distractor; and with a dog as a distractor. After each one of these situations, they were requested to evaluate their experience. They found that the students endured for longer periods of time when the dog was present. Also, they tended to evaluate their experience as more positive and tolerable in the presence of the dog when compared to the other two conditions. These results indicate that the interaction with a pet dog – even with a non familiar dog and for a limited length of time – may decrease signs of distress.

By Laura Sodré Galvão Garcia, Isabela Zaine, and Camila Domeniconi

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