The dog, a universal therapist?

The dog, a universal therapist?

It is well known that dogs can cheer us up. But work on the issue has mainly been carried out with women, which raises questions about the benefit of cynotherapy for individuals of another gender. A recent Canadian study proves that canines are valuable allies for everyone.

A research team affiliated with the University of British Columbia Okanagan wanted to evaluate the therapeutic benefits of dogs by conducting an experiment with 163 students. This group of volunteers was made up of 49% women, 33% men and 17% people who were non-binary or had another gender identity. All study participants took part in twenty-minute cynotherapy sessions in groups of three or four, before completing a questionnaire assessing their general well-being.

Reduced stress and increased well-being

Researchers found that these therapy sessions with a dog significantly increased the well-being of the volunteers. They also alleviate the stress, loneliness or feeling of uprootedness that some students may feel who go to university far from their hometown. And this, regardless of the patient’s gender identity.

For Professor John-Tyler Binfet, co-author of the study, published in CABI Human-Animal Interactions, these results show that cynotherapy can be suitable for a wide range of individuals. “In light of previous studies in which volunteers were predominantly women, our sample of men, people “gender fluid” and two-spirit (gender identity specific to indigenous communities, editor’s note.) allows us to better understand that the effectiveness of these interventions does not seem to depend on gender“, he said in a statement. He also stressed that “dogs helped students feel and experience something positive, regardless of gender“.

Despite its methodological limitations, this research suggests that man’s best friend can potentially be an excellent therapist. It should therefore come as no surprise that dogs are increasingly appearing in medical infrastructures, including the Institut Curie in Paris.

For several months, the establishment has welcomed Snoopy, an English setter aged around two years, so that cancer patients and caregivers can benefit from his calming presence. Everyone can touch it, taking care, of course, to wash their hands conscientiously after caresses, and therefore benefit from the many virtues of this four-legged mediator. Several hospitals in Europe are considering replicating this project.