Why dog assisted training for managers?

5 ways dogs aid cognitive development and learning

1. Dogs help us to be present

It doesn’t matter whether you’re new to your role or more established, as managers we’re always juggling multiple priorities. One minute you’re knee deep in strategy work, the next you’re supporting a team member with their development and then before you know it, it’s time to present to your department.

As a result, our minds are constantly wandering. We’re thinking about future plans, considering past pitfalls, wondering how to approach that awkward conversation…

To be at our most effective cognitively, we need to be able to focus on the present moment, without external thoughts and distractions. Dogs have been shown to immediately bring people into the present moment and help people focus on the here and now, helping us to get the most out of every session.

2. Dogs reduce stress

A recent study found that 25 to 34 year olds are feeling the most work-related pressure with 31% of this age group experiencing work-related stress on a weekly basis. It’s no coincidence that this is the age people are most likely to get their first management role…

Studies show that when we are in a state of stress, it affects how our brain functions resulting in lower levels of cognitive flexibility, memory and attention.

Research shows that just 10 minutes in the company of a dog can significantly reduce levels of cortisol, a major stress hormone, increasing our ability to learn, reflect and grow. 

3. Dogs boost our happy hormones

Dogs are the most natural antidepressant out there. When we interact with a dog, our bodies have been shown to release mood enhancing hormones including dopamine and serotonin.

And while no one’s denying that we all feel more receptive to new information when we’re happy, there’s actual science behind it! 

Dopamine, the chemical that controls reward-motivated behaviour is linked to learning, motivation and memory. What’s more dopamine increases our attention levels and can give us a feeling of overall wellbeing, conducive to personal growth.

And while serotonin is most commonly known for the impact it can have on our mood, this neurotransmitter has also been shown to boost the speed of our learning.

4. Dogs increase our focus and concentration

Being in the presence of dogs increases our ability to be mindful, focusing on the present moment. Research shows that when we practice mindfulness, not only does our concentration improve, but our ability to keep information active in our mind also increases.

5. Dogs help build rapport & increase trust

Studies have shown that dogs can act like a catalyst when it comes to people building rapport and having trust in others. Trust and rapport are crucial when it comes to the training experience, enabling people to have more meaningful conversations which can only serve to amplify the effectiveness of the programme.

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