Meeting People with Dogs

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Meeting People with Dogs

If you have trouble making friends, our resident scientist, Graeme Quirk, suggests that you get a dog. Recent research at the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom showed that dogs can act as powerful social catalysts, making it easier for people to interact with each other.

One researcher took a dog with her for five days as she went about her normal routine, and during that time she recorded 150 conversations with strangers. During another five-day period without the dog there were only 50 encounters.

The experiment was repeated by a male colleague, who sometimes dressed smartly, but other times looked very scruffy. No matter how he was dressed, the researcher recorded 10 times as many conversations whenever he was accompanied by a dog.

Although the dogs were trained to ignore passers by, they still proved to be very good icebreakers. The researchers think that’s because people find it much easier to make social contact when there is a safe topic of conversation.