Stress among students can be reduced by spending time with animals, according to a new studying from Washington State University.
It has become increasingly common for universities to bring “therapy dos” on to campus; however, claims about their benefits have up until this point been anecdotal. Now, scientists say they have objective evidence to support the use of dogs to reduce stress in students.
Patricia Pendry, from Washington State University, said her study showed “soothing” sessions with dogs could lessen the negative impact of stress.
The study of more than 300 undergraduates had found weekly hour-long sessions with dogs brought to the university by professional handlers had made stressed students at “high risk of academic failure” or dropping out “feel relaxed and accepted.” helping them to concentrate, learn and remember information, Pendry said.
“Students most at risk, such as those with mental health issues, showed the most benefit,” said Pendry.
In the U.S., about 1,000 campuses are using therapy pets. At some, programs to cheer up students with dogs have been in place for a long time, such as bringing dogs to a public place during finals week or other high-stress times of the semester.
“There does seem to be something specific about the reducing of anxiety from the petting of animals,” said Pendry.
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