By John Salak –
Women aren’t the only ones who benefit from a cuddle with a fur baby. Men, as well as non-binary and other genders, apparently have just as much to gain from a pooch smooch as women. This is welcomed news since men tend to dominate dog ownership demographics as approximately 70 percent of younger men aged 18 to 44 own a dog compared to 60 percent of women the same age, according to Mintel.com.
The benefits of owning a dog are already numerous and well-reported. Any pooch, let alone a therapy dog, can help owners lessen feelings of loneliness, reduce stress, enhance socialization, promote physical activity, support heart health and even help owners cope with crises. A canine wingman can even make dog owners seem more attractive, according to the American Kennel Club. The club reports that men are more likely to get a woman’s phone number if they are with a dog, while another study found that men and women are more likely to connect to someone on a dating app if they see a dog’s picture.
So, yeah, there is little debate on the healing power of pooches. Most studies until now, however, have focused on the dog benefits on women for whatever reason. Researchers at the University of British Columbia (UBC) wanted to find out if these benefits extend equally to men and other gender-diverse individuals.
“Previous research has explored if it works and how it works, but not who it works for,” said Dr. John-Tyler Binfet, an associate professor at UBC Okanagan’s School of Education. “This was one of the first studies that examined whether canine-assisted interventions work equally well for varied genders.”
The research team examined this by setting up dog therapy sessions with participants for all three groupings. Prior to the sessions, the 163 participants involved reported on their well-being: specifically measuring their self-perceptions of campus and social connectedness, happiness, optimism, stress, homesickness and loneliness.
The results showed, as expected, that there was a significant increase in well-being and a decrease in homesickness, stress and loneliness after each 20-minute therapy session. Besides this, the study also demonstrated that canines have a comparable positive wellness effect across all gender identities.
“In light of previous studies that note participants were predominantly women, our sampling of men, genderfluid and two-spirit participants furthers our understanding that the efficacy of these interventions does not appear to be gender dependent,” Binfet explained. “The vast majority of responses showed that the dogs helped the students feel and experience something positive regardless of their gender.”
These furry findings once again demonstrate that dogs are still quite possibly man’s best friends.