London City Airport adopts ‘embrace position’ as The Cuddle Club brings therapy dogs to the terminal

London City Airport’s Departures Lounge welcomed four-legged visitors today, in a special trial event to coincide with National Stress Awareness Day. 
 
A group of therapy dogs from The Cuddle Club, which specialises in workplace wellbeing, came airside with their handlers to provide an instant ‘paw-sitive’ mood boost to passengers and staff.
 
There is scientific evidence that giving attention to dogs lowers blood pressure and heart rate, helping people to be calmer and more mindful. Today’s experience gave the opportunity for The Cuddle Club to see how dogs can be a useful emotional outlet in a busy airport context.
 
The four-strong pack, included Chubbs, a three-year-old French Bulldog; Tilly, a six-year-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel; and five year old Pomeranians, Kobe and Cedric. All of the dogs undergo rigorous training and assessment to work in a variety of environments, ensuring they are relaxed and remain calm, and ‘shifts’ last no more than two hours in the interests of the dogs’ welfare.
 
The canine visit is timely, as the airport recently published a report on the relationship between transport and mental health. It concluded that the way people travel and their experience at rail stations, airports and on roads, could play a significant role in improving their overall mental wellbeing. The airport also welcomes many passengers with a hidden disability, for whom the airport setting may cause heightened anxieties.

Liam McKay, Director of Corporate Affairs at London City Airport, said:
 
“We recognise that flying can, at times, create stresses and anxieties, particularly if passengers are unfamiliar with airport processes. Similarly, our terminal-based staff, such as Security teams, face their own pressures to keep everyone safe and secure.
 
“Today’s activity with The Cuddle Club is a useful way to see how therapy dogs can help in an airport, and we’ve been very impressed by the reaction from all, including business and leisure passengers.”

Aneka Johnson, Founder of The Cuddle Club, said:
 
“We are delighted to bring our therapeutic pooches to London City Airport, helping alleviate stresses experienced both by flyers and staff working in a fast-paced busy environment.
 
“Our dog therapy initiative prides itself in working with forward-thinking communities and employers to implement tailored wellbeing strategies to reduce the challenges derived from stress, anxiety and poor mental health. It’s a thrill to bring our calming canines to such a prominent public space to show first-hand the positive impact they can have.”

Dr Deborah Wells, Director of the Animal Behaviour Centre, Queen's University Belfast, said:
 
“There is substantial evidence to suggest that dogs can serve as powerful stress busters. The mere action of looking at a dog, or, in some cases, simply being in the presence of a dog, can distract people from anxiety-provoking situations.
 
“Various studies also suggest that stroking a dog can lower heart rate and blood pressure and increase the production of dopamine and serotonin, our ‘feel-good’ neurotransmitters. All things considered, the presence of a good-tempered dog may have a powerful role to play in the context of a busy airport, helping to bolster mood, reduce anxiety and distract travellers and staff from surrounding bustle.”

Notes for editors
  • Founded in 2018, The Cuddle Club was set up by dogpreneur Aneka Johnson following a severe illness caused her to take over a year out of work and she experienced first-hand the benefits of dog therapy. Praising her French Bulldog Chubbs for literally saving her life, Aneka developed a new-found passion to advocate the healing effects dogs can have on humans leading to the launch of The Cuddle Club. The London-based initiative has worked with over 1,000 HR heroes equally passionate about implementing workplace wellbeing strategies for the ongoing support of staff. At the heart of The Cuddle Club is a inherent desire to offer as many calming cuddles through dog therapy to both businesses and city residents alike, aiding communities to connect through a love of dogs and to help spread happiness not just throughout London but nationwide.
  • The Cuddle Club has visited a wide variety of workplaces including L’Oreal, King’s College Hospital, Virgin Limited Edition, Publicis Media, The Guardian, PRS for Music, Thames Reach and Stylist Magazine.
  • The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is currently consulting on regulations over the allowance of assistance dogs on flights, seeking views on the current rules. Today’s activity is not to encourage passengers to bring their dogs to the airport, and London City Airport would ask anyone considering to travel with their pet to contact their airline in order to check the rules, which vary from carrier to carrier.