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  • 1.
    Beetz, Andrea
    et al.
    Univ Rostock, Dept Special Educ, D-18055 Rostock, Germany .
    Kotrschalt, Kurt
    Univ Vienna, Dept Behav Biol, A-1010 Vienna, Austria .
    Turner, Dennis C.
    Univ Zurich Irchel, IEMT Switzerland & Anim Behav, Zurich, Switzerland .
    Hediger, Karin
    Univ Rostock, Dept Special Educ, D-18055 Rostock, Germany .
    Uvnäs-Moberg, Kerstin
    University of Skövde, School of Life Sciences.
    Julius, Henri
    Univ Rostock, Dept Special Educ, D-18055 Rostock, Germany .
    The Effect of a Real Dog, Toy Dog and Friendly Person on Insecurely Attached Children During a Stressful Task: An Exploratory Study2011In: Anthrozoos, ISSN 0892-7936, E-ISSN 1753-0377, Vol. 24, no 4, p. 349-368Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The regulation of stress by an attachment figure is a key feature of attachment relationships. Previous research suggests that in some cases animal companionship may be regarded as an attachment relationship. This may be particularly important for persons with an insecure or disorganized attachment pattern who may find it more difficult than securely attached individuals to accept social support from humans. In our study, we investigated whether 31 boys (aged 7-12 years) with insecure/disorganized attachment would profit more from the presence of a dog (n = 11) than of a friendly human (n = 11) or a toy dog (n = 9) as support during a socially stressful situation (Trier Social Stress Test for Children, TSST-C). Stress levels were assessed via salivary cortisol recorded five times before, during, and after the TSST-C. The behavior of the children was coded from video recordings. Self-reported stress levels did not significantly differ between the groups before and after the TSST-C. Salivary cortisol, however, was significantly lower in the real dog condition than in the other two conditions (Kruskal-Wallis H test on area under the curve increase (AUCi): chi(2) = 15.17, df = 2, p = 0.001). Also, the more the children stroked the dog, the less pronounced was their stress reaction (r(s) = -0.818, p = 0.002). Our data suggest an important role of physical contact in the stress reducing effect. We conclude that the children investigated profited more from interacting with a friendly dog than with either a human or a toy dog in a stressful situation. We discuss the relevance of our findings for animal-assisted interventions.

  • 2.
    Handlin, Linda
    et al.
    University of Skövde, The Systems Biology Research Centre. University of Skövde, School of Life Sciences.
    Hydbring-Sandberg, Eva
    Swedish Univ Agr Sci, Dept Anat Physiol & Biochem, Uppsala, Sweden .
    Nilsson, Anne
    Swedish Univ Agr Sci, Dept Anim Environm & Hlth, Skara, Sweden .
    Ejdebäck, Mikael
    University of Skövde, School of Bioscience. University of Skövde, The Systems Biology Research Centre. Göteborgs universitet.
    Jansson, Anna
    Swedish Univ Agr Sci, Dept Anim Nutr & Management, S-75007 Uppsala, Sweden.
    Uvnäs-Moberg, Kerstin
    University of Skövde, The Systems Biology Research Centre. University of Skövde, School of Life Sciences.
    Short-Term Interaction between Dogs and Their Owners: Effects on Oxytocin, Cortisol, Insulin and Heart Rate-An Exploratory Study2011In: Anthrozoos, ISSN 0892-7936, E-ISSN 1753-0377, Vol. 24, no 3, p. 301-315Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The aim of this exploratory study was to determine heart rate and the levels of oxytocin, cortisol, and insulin in dogs and their owners in response to a short-term interaction. In addition, the dogs' behavior was studied. The owners' responses were compared with those obtained from a control group. Ten female volunteers and their own male Labrador dogs participated in an experiment during which the owner stroked, petted, and talked with her dog during the first 3 minutes. Blood samples were collected from both dog and owner before (0) and at 1, 3, 5, 15, 30, and 60 minutes after the start of the interaction. Blood samples were analyzed by EIA. Heart rate was monitored telemetrically. The data were analyzed using linear mixed models and paired t-tests. The dogs' oxytocin levels were significantly increased 3 minutes after the start of the interaction (p = 0.027). Cortisol levels were significantly increased after 15 and 30 minutes (p = 0.004 and p = 0.022, respectively), and heart rate was significantly decreased after 55 minutes (p = 0.008). The dogs displayed normal behaviors during the experiment. The owners' oxylocin levels peaked between 1 and 5 minutes after interaction (p = 0.026). No such effect was seen in the controls. Cortisol levels displayed a significant decrease at 15 or 30 minutes in both owners and controls, and insulin levels did so at 60 minutes (p = 0.030, p = 0.002 and p = 0.002, p < 0.0001, respectively). Heart rate decreased significantly in the owners at 55 and 60 minutes (p = 0.0008) but not in the controls. In conclusion, short-term sensory interaction between dogs and their owners influences hormonal levels and heart rate. However, further studies need to be performed in order to better understand the effects of interaction between dogs and their owners.

  • 3.
    Handlin, Linda
    et al.
    University of Skövde, School of Life Sciences. University of Skövde, The Systems Biology Research Centre.
    Nilsson, Anne
    University of Skövde, School of Life Sciences. University of Skövde, The Systems Biology Research Centre.
    Ejdebäck, Mikael
    University of Skövde, School of Bioscience. University of Skövde, The Systems Biology Research Centre.
    Hydbring-Sandberg, Eva
    University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala.
    Uvnäs-Moberg, Kerstin
    University of Skövde, School of Life Sciences. University of Skövde, The Systems Biology Research Centre.
    Associations between the Psychological Characteristics of the Human-Dog Relationship and Oxytocin and Cortisol Levels2012In: Anthrozoos, ISSN 0892-7936, E-ISSN 1753-0377, Vol. 25, no 2, p. 215-228Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The aim of the present study was to explore possible correlations between dog owners' relationships with their dogs, as measured with the Monash Dog Owner Relationship Scale (MDORS), and oxytocin and cortisol levels in both the owners and their dogs. Ten female owners of male Labrador Retrievers completed the MDORS. The scores obtained from the single items, subscales, and total score of the MDORS were calculated. Ten blood samples were collected from each dog owner and her dog during a 60-minute interaction. Blood samples were analyzed for oxytocin and cortisol by Enzyme Immuno Assay (EIA) and mean values of oxytocin and cortisol were calculated in both owners and dogs. The MDORS scores obtained were correlated with basal and mean oxytocin and cortisol levels. The correlation analysis revealed some relationships between the scores of items in the MDORS that reflect the character of the dog-owner-relationship and the owners' hormone levels. For example, higher oxytocin levels in the owners were associated with greater frequency in kissing their dogs (rs = 0.864, p = 0.001). Lower cortisol levels in the owners were associated with their perception that it will be more traumatic when their dog dies (rs = -0.730, p = 0.025). The correlation analysis also revealed some relationships between the scores of items in the MDORS and the dogs' hormone levels. For example, greater frequency in owners kissing their dogs was associated with higher oxytocin levels in the dogs (rs = 0.753, p = 0.029). Six items in the subscale Perceived Costs, as well as the subscale itself, correlated significantly with the dogs' oxytocin levels (rs = 0.820, p = 0.007), that is, the lower the perceived cost, the higher the dogs' oxytocin levels. In addition, significant correlations between the oxytocin levels of the owners and the dogs were demonstrated. Possible mechanisms behind these correlations are discussed. In conclusion, the scores of some items and the subscales of the MDORS correlated with oxytocin, and to a lesser extent cortisol, levels in both the owners and dogs.

  • 4.
    Handlin, Linda
    et al.
    University of Skövde, School of Health and Education. University of Skövde, Health and Education.
    Nilsson, Anne
    Department of Animal Environment and Health, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Skara, Sweden.
    Lidfors, Lena
    Department of Animal Environment and Health, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Skara, Sweden.
    Petersson, Maria
    Department of Molecular Medicine and Surgery, Endocrine and Diabetes Unit, Karolinska Institutet, Sweden.
    Uvnäs-Moberg, Kerstin
    Department of Animal Environment and Health, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Skara, Sweden.
    The Effects of a Therapy Dog on the Blood Pressure and Heart Rate of Older Residents in a Nursing Home2018In: Anthrozoos, ISSN 0892-7936, E-ISSN 1753-0377, Vol. 31, no 5, p. 567-576Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The aim of the present project was to investigate whether repeated visits by a therapy dog to nursing homes might affect the older residents’ systolic blood pressure and heart rate. A secondary aim was to investigate and compare effects (differences in responses) in older people with high and normal systolic blood pressure. The project consisted of two consecutive studies; the dog study (two researchers and a therapy dog with a handler visited the residents at three nursing homes, n = 13), and the controlstudy (the two researchers alone visited the residents at three different nursinghomes, n = 13). The studies were divided into three periods; period 1(weeks 1–2), period 2 (weeks 3–4), and period 3 (weeks 5–6) and included two visits per week. The dog and her handler visited during periods 2 and 3 in the dog study. Participants’ heart rate and blood pressure were measured at 0 and 20 minutes at each visit. The data were analyzed using Friedman’s twowayanalysis of Variance by Rank with post-hoc analysis using Wilcoxonsigned-rank tests with a Bonferroni correction, and also with the mann-Whitney U test for independent samples. In the dog study, participants’ heartrate decreased significantly (p = 0.006) from period 1 to period 3. Participants with an initial systolic blood pressure ≥ 130 mmhg had a significant decreasein both systolic blood pressure (p = 0.009) and heart rate (p = 0.009). In the control study, participants’ heart rate and systolic blood pressure did not change significantly. the participants in the dog study had a significantly lower systolic blood pressure during period 3 (p = 0.016) compared with those in the control study. In conclusion, repeated visits by a therapy dog–handler team decreased the older adults’ heart rate, and for those with high initial systolic blood pressure, blood pressure also decreased. In addition, systolic blood pressure decreased significantly in the dog group when compared with the control group.

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