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Pets help humans interact in a digital age

Walking a dog has been proven to stimulate interaction between people, but now simply having a dog may mean that owners have an easy ice breaker for cocktails after work or a first date.

Dr. Sandra Barker, professor of psychiatry, told Parents Magazine that "pets act as a social lubricant."

"Research has shown that people interact more with others when they're out walking a dog than when they're strolling alone," she explained.

But now, with the advent of cell phones that feature cameras, it is easier than ever for adoring owners to carry around pocket-sized photos of their furry friends, according to the Journal Sentinel.

"It's a conversation-starter and gives you a certain bond with that person," Mary Jo Garinger told the publication. She says she met a fellow bird lover at her office after she showed off pictures of Buddy, her cockatiel.

The trend of people bonding over animals is in part because new technology makes it easier than ever to do so - there are apps for pet photography - as well as a cultural shift in the way that humans relate to pets, the news outlet reports.  
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