Date of Award

Spring 2004

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Anne Perkins

Second Advisor

Thomas Hamilton

Third Advisor

Murphy Fox

Abstract

Several studies have shown that the presence of a dog can reduce blood pressure during a stressful situation. A study done in 2001 demonstrated that for blood pressure to be reduced during a stressor the subjects must be dog owners. The purpose of this experiment was to determine if four, one hour, exposures to a dog is sufficient for reducing blood pressure in non-dog owning subjects. Twenty-three volunteers from an undergraduate psychology class were shown three holocaust photographs, in the presence of a familiar dog, unfamiliar dog, or without a dog. The results of the study found that there was a significant difference in blood pressure rate changes as a function of the slightly familiar dog’s presence. The lower blood pressure was associated with the group that was previously exposed to the dog. These data suggest that non-dog owning subjects can experience lowered blood pressures if they are exposed for a short amount of time to a dog prior to testing.

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