Pembroke Corgi running through field.

Looking At Cute Dog Photos Boosts Your Well-Being According to Researchers

Searches for “how to feel better” have risen 35% in the past five years, according to Google Trends. Searches for “how to reduce stress” have risen 52% in the same period. For dog lovers, however, the way to less stress and more peace might be as simple as a glance at their furry companions. Jen Golbeck, Ph.D., and Stacey Colino, M.S., explore the profound impact of dog friends on our well-being in their book, The Purest Bond: Understanding the Human–Canine Connection (Atria Books, November 2023.)

Dog lovers are certainly aware of the joy dogs bring into their lives. However, they may not realize all of the beneficial effects that dogs have on us, not only emotionally, but also physically, mentally, and socially. In The Purest Bond, the authors explore the scientific reasons for these benefits. Golbeck and Colino want to help people understand the ways our connections with dogs increase our well-being, sometimes in ways we don’t even realize. 

One intriguing finding from Golbeck and Colino's research shows the positive impact of merely looking at pictures of dogs. A study with 1,880 participants found that spending just 5 minutes viewing cute dog photos significantly improves a person's sense of well-being and enhances focus and attention.

In the study, researchers measured the effects of either viewing funny tweets, Donald Trump's Twitter feed, or tweets with cute dog pictures on participants' well-being.

To begin, participants filled out a survey about their sense of well-being. This sense was described as “the feeling of being happy, safe, calm, content, in-control, and grateful.” Then they spent 5 minutes doing one of the following: reading popular funny tweets, reading Donald Trump's Twitter feed, or looking at tweets with cute pictures of dogs.

Looking at Dog Photos Had The Most Positive Impact

Each of the online activities showed changes in participants' well-being.

  • Decreased well-being: The study found that people’s sense of well-being decreased after reading Trump's tweets, regardless of whether participants supported him or not. Researchers believe this is likely due to the focus on upsetting issues. Trump supporters wound up feeling angry about what Trump was angry about. Trump detractors felt angry about what Trump was saying.
  • Improved well-being: The effect of reading funny tweets and looking at dog pictures was an increased sense of well-being. However, participants who looked at the tweets with cute dog pictures had the most substantial increase in their sense of well-being.

This aligns with earlier research indicating that looking at cute images like baby animals can potentially boost productivity. That study on the power of Kawaii (meaning cute in Japanese) found that “cuteness-triggered positive emotion” makes people approach tasks with more care and focused attention.

Want More Cute Dogs In Your Day?

If you’d like to add a bit of cuteness to your day, it’s easy to find adorable dog pictures. Instagram hashtags like #cutedogs #cutedogsofinstagram will bring up plenty of adorable photos. There are also many accounts dedicated to canine cuteness. Here are some we love.

i.love.dogs.cute

Filled with user-submitted adorable dog photos- this account is full of puppy cuteness.

 

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A post shared by I Love Dogs (@i.love.dogs.cute)

DogsOfIG

DogsOfIG shares photos, memes, and lots of videos of pups that will give you a happy dog boost.

Do you love a particular breed of dog? You can probably find an Instagram account for them.

For instance, here’s one for irresistibly floofy corgis:

 

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A post shared by Corgis (@corgis_realm)

And if you like golden retrievers, you’ll love this account:

If you’d like some heartwarming rescue stories along with your cute dog photos, you can find those as well.

dogsofshelters

Dogs of Shelters supports dog rescues around the world.

 

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rescuepetsofinstagram

Rescue Pets of Instagram features dogs and cats, and allows pet adopters to share their loving stories of rescued pets.

With all those cute dogs out there, you’ve got a great option next time you need a break. Instead of doom-scrolling, try boosting your well-being through cuteness!

Author: Alissa Zorn

Title: Trauma-Informed Coach

Expertise: childhood emotional neglect, perfectionism, parenting, journaling, comics, doodling, coaching

Alissa Zorn is the founder of OverthoughtThis.com. She's a trauma-informed coach and cartoonist passionate about helping people overcome perfectionism and shame to build authentic, joyful lives. Alissa has been featured on the Good Men Project, Wealth of Geeks, Motherly, MSN.com and more.