PETTING THERAPY DOGS
- For college students under pressure, a dog may be the best stress fighter around.
- Programs exclusively focused on petting therapy dogs improved stressed-out students' thinking and planning skills more effectively than programs that included traditional stress-management information.
- Universities are doing a lot of great work trying to help students succeed academically, especially those who may be at risk due to a history of mental health issues or academic and learning issues. Some traditional stress management approaches aren't as effective for this population compared with programs that focus on providing opportunities to interact with therapy dogs.
- Petting animals for just 10 minutes had physiological impacts, reducing students' stress in the short-term.
- In the three-year study, students were randomly assigned to one of three academic stress-management programs featuring varying combinations of human-animal interaction and evidenced-based academic stress management.
- The results were very strong. They saw that students who were most at risk ended up having most improvements in executive functioning in the human-animal interaction condition. These results remained when followed up six weeks later.
- Human-animal interaction programs help by letting struggling students relax as they talk and think about their stressors. Through petting animals, they are more likely to relax and cope with these stressors rather than become overwhelmed. This enhances students' ability to think, set goals, get motivated, concentrate and remember what they are learning.
- Animal sessions aren't just about changing behavior. They help students engage in positive thoughts and actions.
- When you are looking at the ability to study, engage, concentrate and take a test, then having the animal aspect is very powerful. Being calm is helpful for learning especially for those who struggle with stress and learning."