Volunteer dog cuddling is being offered by a Northamptonshire dog sitting company as an antidote to loneliness in modern society.
For those who are retired or work from home and are spending large chunks of time alone, temporarily caring for a dog and meeting other like-minded dog lovers could really help to overcome feelings of isolation.
The perception of loneliness as mainly an issue for the older generation is now proving inaccurate, as a study from the Office for National Statistics suggests that young adults are more likely to feel lonely than older age groups.
Shirley Rands of Barking Mad's South Northants branch in Towcester said: "While remote working has obvious advantages, working alone under pressure and not having the physical presence of a team to support you can lead to loneliness that can’t be fixed by any kind of app.
"Caring for a friendly dog not only provides canine cuddles (far better than any virtual hug) but also the motivation to go and take a walk at lunchtime, increasing the likelihood of adhering to New Year fitness resolutions."
Due to huge advances in technology, the number of freelancers and remote workers is rising, with an article in Business Leader claiming that a ‘third of business owners think that workforce will work remotely by 2020’.
The community of Barking Mad host families mainly consists of active retired people and those who either work from home or have extended periods away from work.
It offers the opportunity to care for dogs in your own home, while their owners are away on holiday.
Hosts experience all the benefits of dog companionship without any of the emotional or financial responsibilities of full-time pet ownership.
Barking Mad has branches in Towcester, Kettering and Northampton covering the Brackley, Daventry, Wellingborough, Corby, Market Harborough, Thrapston and Moulton areas.