A new study suggests that children who spend time with dogs have lower stress. In the study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, researchers examined the levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, in children before and after spending 20 minutes with a trained dog twice a week for four weeks. The researchers compared the results to children who didn’t spend time with dogs and children who instead practiced meditation. The children who spent time with dogs showed significantly lower cortisol levels after their interactions with dogs than either the control or meditation group. Other benefits seen in children who play with well-behaved dogs include self-confidence, a sense of belonging and security, increased social skills, and fewer behavioral issues.