Last updated: 10:00 PM ET, Mon August 29 2016

Pre-flight Jitters? 5 Benefits of Airport Therapy Dogs

Airlines & Airports | VANE Airport Magazine | August 29, 2016

Pre-flight Jitters? 5 Benefits of Airport Therapy Dogs

Here’s a new reason dogs may be man’s — and woman’s — best friend:  to make your layover suck less. Travel can be a jittery experience and airlines are helping curb that problem through the many benefits of airport therapy dogs.

Instead of wandering lost and bored around the airport, why not wander over to a furry, happy dog? Airport therapy dogs are a relatively new and huge trend in airports to help passengers cool their jets before their flight. After all, isn’t making people happy what dogs do best? (Besides giving you a good lick.)

If you can get into a better mood, you can get a better layover experience. Simple as that. Don’t believe it? There is evidence that petting dogs can help reduce stress among many other things.

Benefits Of Airport Therapy Dogs:

1. Creates a positive hormonal response

A University of Missouri-Columbia researcher has found that interacting and petting animals creates a hormonal response in humans that can help fight depression.

Rebecca Johnson, MU professor of nursing and veterinary medicine, said that their “…preliminary results indicate that levels of serotonin, a hormone in humans that helps fight depression, rise dramatically after interaction with live animals, specifically dogs.”

Playing with or petting a dog increases the levels of the happiness hormone oxytocin and decreases the levels of cortisol, which is responsible for feelings of stress, thereby leading to a happier mood.

READ MORE: New York’s JFK Latest Airport to Add Pet Relief Facilities

2. Lowers blood pressure

Studies show that animal-assisted therapy is an effective way to reduce stress and anxiety. Petting a pet during your layover can get your stress levels to drop dramatically. In addition to winning your heart, they can help improve the way our heart works.

3. You can get some unconditional love

Who doesn’t want 100 percent acceptance without judgment? Dogs seem to just be there for you; there’s no attitude, no negative feedback. Dogs can really make us feel better about ourselves.

A study, published in the journal Biology Letters, suggests that dogs can recognize emotions in humans by combining information from different senses — an ability that has never previously been observed outside of humans. They can sense if we are feeling sad, lonely or anxious and will try to help us feel better.

4. Gets you moving

Sitting at your gate too long? Doggy action will get you moving – maybe even throw you on the floor! All this touchy feel-y activity can provide you with some great sensory stress relief. Touch and movement are two healthy ways to quickly manage stress.

5. Can make your layover less boring

When all is said and done, dogs really make your layover less boring. The next time a dog comes bounding up to you for a wet, sloppy kiss and a good belly rub, don’t back away! Let’s enjoy some “pawsitive” energy during our next layover and get on the flight a lot less stressed.

This blog originally appeared on Vane's website.


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