How Therapy Dogs Help Students Cope in Class

By April 13, 2022News

Universities know that students often struggle to keep up with the demands of their studies due to high levels of stress. One solution many schools are now implementing is therapy dogs. The chance to pet an animal that will provide unconditional affection is helping students in several ways.

Reduce Stress

Before a big test, tensions often run high. Anxiety about the exam can make it difficult to study, leading to a vicious circle of stress and worry. One of the most effective ways to reduce stress is to spend time with a therapy dog.

In fact, students can benefit from therapy dogs when they’re stressed for any reason, including if they feel overwhelmed or they’re struggling to manage a heavy workload. One study found that levels of cortisol (the hormone linked to stress) decreased significantly after just 10 minutes with a therapy animal.

Dealing with Homesickness and Loneliness

Some students find it takes a long time to settle into university. It’s tough being surrounded by strangers and away from the people you’ve known all your life. Plus, you may not feel comfortable sharing your feelings with someone you barely know — but a dog is another matter. Physical contact and the chance to bond can help students feel less alone and even remove some of their inhibitions about developing close friendships with the people they meet.

A Stand-In for the Family Pet

A major reason for homesickness is often missing the family pet. Whereas therapy dogs can never be a replacement, they can be a great stand-in for students who may be unable to go home for several weeks or months at a time.

Free Therapy

Universities often provide some low-cost counselling services, but therapy dogs tend to be free to access for all students. Universities can choose from different programs to meet the needs of their students. Some programs are casual, with dogs coming onto campus a few times each semester. Students are typically able to spend up to an hour with a dog, either on their own or in a small group. Many universities go a step further and provide students with regular therapy: they’re assigned a particular dog and have regular sessions with the animal and handler.

Forget About Your Studies

In particular, students report enjoying time with therapy dogs because it’s an excuse to stop thinking about their studies. In addition, the sessions push them to schedule time in their day just to relax.

The even-better news is that the dogs seem to be just as positive about the experience. Many dog owners who participate in the programs say their pets are excited about going to campus — and are happier still when they arrive and start interacting with students.

Another way to destress is to live in more comfortable shared accommodation. Oshawa students can distance themselves from the hectic life on campus by moving into the student community at Foundry 1805. You’ll have a private space where you can relax on your own or hang out with new friends after a long day of classes. Apply now to secure the unit of your choice.

rachel_grier@outlook.com

Author rachel_grier@outlook.com

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