Crufts: Discover Dogs Stress Test

DOGS are known for their loyalty and friendliness, but one Earlsfield man has found pooches can also help him unwind from the stress and rigours of the city.

Four professionals were invited to a café in Hackney on Thursday to experience how four-legged friends can have positive psychological and physiological effects at the Pet a Puppy Stressbuster Clinic.

Organised by the Kennel Club and also featuring former world champion turned tv personalist Iwan Thomas, the event was a taster ahead of the clinic heading to ExCel London on October 21 and 22 as part of London’s biggest dog event, Eukanuba Discover Dogs.

Workers’ heart rates and blood pressure were measured after they performed a timed crossword, before they were allowed 15 minutes of play time with the dogs.

The same tests were then carried out, with psychologists noting a marked drop in both heart rate and blood pressure after a session with the pooches.

And city worker Ian MacIver, an underwriter for Lodestar Marine Insurance, admitted the experience eased the everyday burden that comes with high-pressure employment in a global city.

“I think I will definitely try and spend more time around dogs after this,” said the 26-year-old.

“They gave us a crossword to complete, which was made extra stressful by having six of us sat in a circle which instantly made it competitive.

“After the time with the dogs, even just looking at the numbers, they were a lot lower the second time and just a lot more relaxed.

“You’re not paying too much attention to it as you’re more focused on the dog rather than what’s going on.

“It just takes your mind off the hum that’s going on and whatever you’re thinking about. It just focuses you down to playing with the dogs – things like trying to make it not run away, wondering what it’s doing. Playing with it really takes your mind off everything else.”

Organisers believe the concept has reinforced the ideal dogs have an overwhelmingly positive effect on human welfare.

Caroline Kisko, secretary of the Kennel Club, added: “This is a very interesting experiment – we’re all fairly certain that dogs are good for us, but what we’re doing here is actually proving that.

“We’ve got people who are very stressful jobs with busy lives. We’re checking their heart rate and blood pressure before giving them time with these lovely puppies.

“And we are finding the puppies are destressing those individuals, really showing that dogs do a great deal of good for us.

“We put the pressure on them and made a test – they didn’t have it easy and had to step up to the mark, but then afterwards they were calmer because of the dogs.

“Dogs are non-critical – they’re not sat thinking ‘you haven’t stroked me enough’ or ‘you’ve been at work for too long’, they don’t judge us, they don’t do anything but give us love.”

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