When was the last time you petted a dog? It’s beneficial for both you and you four-legged friend

Hey there friend! Have you pet a dog recently? I’m talking some good ol’ scratches behind the ears, belly rubs, butt pats – the whole shebang. If not, you might want to add it to your to-do list. Turns out, science says that petting dogs is actually really great for us humans. And of course, most dogs love it too!

In this post, we’ll dive into the research on the benefits of petting dogs for both people and pups. We’ll also chat about why dogs like being pet so much in the first place. Get ready for some serious “awww” moments!

A Quick Dog Pet Can Boost Your Mood

First things first – petting dogs makes us happier! According to a meta-analysis of 129 studies on human-dog interactions, even brief, casual, and friendly contact with dogs can:

  • Improve your mood
  • Reduce stress
  • Increase relaxation
  • Decrease anxiety

The researchers found that just 5 minutes of petting and scratching a dog led to:

  • Lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol
  • Higher levels of the “love hormone” oxytocin

So even a quick dog pet while you’re out and about can give your mood a boost!

Dog Petting Lowers Blood Pressure and Heart Rate

Playing with dogs not only makes us happier – it also has measurable physical benefits. Multiple studies have shown that interacting with dogs helps stabilize our nervous system and cardiovascular function.

Specifically, petting and playing with dogs has been shown to:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduce heart rate
  • Decrease cardiovascular reactivity to stress

For example, one study found that when people pet and talked to a dog for just 18 minutes, they experienced significant reductions in heart rate and blood pressure.

These effects likely occur thanks to oxytocin release and decreased cortisol levels from contact with dogs. Pretty powerful stuff!

Dog Petting May Even Boost Immunity

But wait, there’s more! Emerging research suggests that interacting with dogs might provide a boost to our immune system.

One study found increased levels of immunoglobulin A, an antibody that plays a role in immune function, in the saliva of people after as little as 20 minutes of petting a dog.

Another study showed increased activity of natural killer cells, immune cells that fight infections and cancer, following dog petting sessions.

While more research is still needed, these early findings suggest dog snuggles just might help keep us healthier!

Kids Learn Better After Petting Dogs at School

The benefits of dog petting might even extend to academic performance!

One study looked at 8-9 year old students who got to pet and play with dogs for short sessions twice a week in the classroom. The researchers found that this interaction with dogs not only reduced stress, but also improved the children’s cognitive functioning and abilities.

So dogs really do help kids learn! Many schools are starting to implement regular classroom dog visits for this reason. Turns out puppy petting breaks are far more educational than recess!

Why Do Dogs Like Being Pet So Much?

Now that we’ve covered all the ways humans benefit from petting dogs, let’s chat about why dogs love it so much too!

When you pet a dog, you’re stimulating the release of some of their feel-good hormones:


Just like in people, petting causes an oxytocin surge in dogs. This hormone is associated with bonding, trust, and relaxation. No wonder dogs lean into pets!


Dopamine gets released when dogs are pet too. This neurotransmitter plays a role in their feelings of pleasure and reward. More pets = more happy brain chemicals!


Finally, gentle strokes can trigger endorphins, their natural painkillers, helping pups relax.

So when you pet a dog, you’re basically giving them a neurochemical massage! No wonder they come back for more.

More Reasons Dogs Love Pets

On top of the hormone response, there’s other reasons dogs adore being fussed over:

  • Attention – Most dogs love being the center of attention! Petting is like their shot of spotlight.
  • Touch – Dogs are tactile creatures who communicate a lot through physical contact. For them, petting facilitates bonding.
  • Warmth – Petting creates friction that warms doggo skin in cold temps. Science says dogs prefer temps of 85-90°F – like the heat from pets!
  • Massage – Gentle strokes likely feel like a relaxing massage to dogs. Leans into those scratches!
  • Grooming – Petting mimics the feel of social grooming behaviors dogs naturally engage in. Nails across their back probably remind them of a good lick down from a pal.

So next time your pup leans into a pet, know that you’re giving them some major feel-good vibes!

Pro Dog Petting Tips

Now that you know all the benefits of petting dogs, you’re probably eager to get those dog cuddles in! Here’s some tips on becoming a pro dog petter:

  • Ask first – Always get permission from the dog’s owner before petting, and approach slowly so the dog has a chance to sniff you first.
  • Pet gently – Lighter strokes are better than vigorous rubbing, which may overstimulate. Go for gentle scratches and massaging pets.
  • Focus on “sweet spots” – Most dogs love butt scratches, chest rubs, ear massages. Try around the collar area too! Each dog has their own faves.
  • Keep it short – Don’t overdo it. A few minutes is enough for most dogs. Stop if they lose interest.
  • Watch body language – If the dog moves away, turns their head, stiffens their body, or licks their lips/yawns, they’re signaling they’re done. Respect their boundaries.
  • Reward good behavior – Be sure to praise and treat the dog afterwards so they associate pets with positivity.

Follow these tips, and you’ll become that favorite friendly neighbor all the dogs line up to see!

Add More Dog Love To Your Life

Hopefully now you can see just how good dog petting is, both for our health and our happiness. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and pet some pups!

Here’s some easy ways to add more dog love into your daily life:

  • Volunteer at a local shelter for puppy petting time
  • Check if your workplace or school can implement a bring your dog to work/school day
  • Visit dog-friendly hiking trails, bars, and coffee shops
  • Ask neighbors if you can walk their dog
  • Pet sit for friends and family when they vacation
  • Adopt your own furry friend if you’re able!

Even just taking a few minutes out of your day to pause and appreciate a cute dog out on a walk can lift your spirits. We share this world with such loving creatures – we just have to take the time to connect with them.

Alright friend – now you know the science behind why dog petting is so good for humans and canines. So what are you waiting for? Go give some good dogs some good pets. Your health and happiness will thank you!

Woof woof!