The health benefits of having a dog are well documented - they're good for your self-esteem, stress levels and bound to increase your daily quota of exercise. And if you feel like you and your pooch are in sync, we now know the scientific reason why.
New research proves that not only do they help reduce your heart rate, but that when you're in their company your hearts will beat in time.
The study comes from Pedigree who monitored the heartbeats of three dog owners when they were separated from their pets and then when they were reunited. It found that when they were back together, not only did the human's heart rates slow down, but the dog's too, so that their hearts aligned.
Mia Cobb, canine scientist and demonstration co-conductor explained to The Huffington Post Australia: “There was a really strong coherence in the heart rate pattern of both the owner and dog. Upon being reunited within the first minute, each heart rhythm became almost directly aligned and we saw a reduction straight away.”
Though, this mutual stress relief isn't exclusive to dogs - Cobb suggests you'd see the same results with any pet, from lizard to cat. If you don't own an animal you won't lose out on the calming effect, though it is more pronounced when the pet is well known to you.
“This kind of effect of experiencing a lowered heart rate makes a significant difference to our overall wellbeing. If we can decrease our heart rate by hanging out with our animals, that’s something that can really benefit the community,” Cobb said.
As well as yet another reason to own an animal, this is a great excuse next time you skip a night out in favour of hanging out with your dog: it's stress-relief.