Pet Dogs Succeed Where Human Companions Fail: The Presence of Pet Dogs
AbstractSocial support from family and friends, albeit associated with
beneficial health effects, does not always help to cope with pain. This
may be because humans elicit mixed expectations of social support and
evaluative judgment. The present studies aimed to test whether pet dogs
are a more beneficial source of support in a painful situation than
human companions, because they are not evaluative. For this, 74 and then
50 women completed a cold-pressor task either in the presence of their
own or an unfamiliar pet dog, a friend or an unknown human companion, or
alone. In both studies, participants reported less pain and exhibited
less pain behavior in dogs' compared to human companions' presence.
Furthermore, reactions to pain were moderated by attitudes towards dogs
in study 2. This suggests that pet dogs may help individuals to cope
with painful situations, especially if the individual in pain generally
feels affectionate towards dogs.