When you've had a bad day, things just get better when your dog curls up next to you or puts his head in your lap. Stress dissolves and, studies say, your heart rate and blood pressure drop.

New research suggests that dogs are also physically benefiting from the relationship: Their heart rates decrease when they're with us, too.

In a small experiment sponsored by Pedigree, three Australian dog owners who are very bonded with their pets were separated and then reunited with their pooches. Both the humans and the dogs wore monitors to see what kind of effect they had on each other's heart rate.

In the first moments when they were apart, both the people and the pets grew anxious and their heart rates began to become elevated. When they were brought back together, not only did their heart rates immediately being falling, but they started to mirror each other.

“There was a really strong coherence in the heart rate pattern of both the owner and dog. Upon being reunited within the first minute, each heart rhythm became almost directly aligned and we saw a reduction straight away,” Mia Cobb, canine scientist and researcher told The Huffington Post Australia.

Researchers expected the owners to have a drop in heart rate, but the overall results were surprising. It showed how in sync the owners and pets were and what an impact the owners' presence had on their dogs.

“This project is a really good illustration of what most owners experience every night when they come home from work and are reunited with their companion,” Cobb said.

But before cat owners (and lizard and bird lovers) get ticked off, Cobb points out that it's not just dogs that have this kind of beneficial impact on bonded owners.

“We could certainly see the same effect with a cat, lizard or bird. It comes back to the kind of personal connection we have with our animals,” she said.

But don't expect your goldfish to get all excited when you come back into the room.

Watch the video to see how the demonstration worked. (Heads up, you may want to have a tissue handy.)


Mary Jo DiLonardo Mary Jo writes about everything from health to parenting — and anything that helps explain why her dog does what he does.