In some countries, college campuses take steps to combat the stress of exams and being away from home for students. And they’ve found one of the best ways to do that is through pet therapy.
Some colleges open rooms to let students socialize with puppies.
Canadian scientists discovered an hour and a half of group interaction with dogs reduces stress in students and increases their vigor and mood. The scientists found the results in a small study using pet therapy.
Many things cause stress during the college years. Some students struggle with being independent living away from their parents. Some can’t handle the workload, and some are susceptible to frequent anxiety: exam or even math anxiety, for example. And some students panic when they can’t find someone to help me write my essay. Some universities have therapy animals, most often cats and dogs, to reduce students’ stress levels.
Other campuses create pet rooms where students can relieve stress by interacting with dogs safely. Some institutions offer this option year-round, while others team up with local organizations that bring dogs to campus during exams when students are busiest.
Colleges use puppies to reduce students’ stress
Kent State University claims to be the first public university in the United States to offer a pet therapy program. The “Dogs on Campus” program was launched in 2004 and is still regularly conducted on college campuses.
The University of Connecticut’s Paws to Relax program allows students to visit therapy dogs during the exams. The best part is that these “furry” sessions are held in the library.
The University of Iowa also tries to promote stress relief during exams. One of its many activities is organizing study breaks to socialize with dogs twice a year at the end of each semester.
Students can visit the university library not only to borrow a book. They can also interact for a while with animals. The Yale Law Library regularly “rents” therapy dogs. The program began with Monty the dog, who is now “retired.” But according to the local Yale Daily News, they found a replacement: library puppy Pippin. In addition, the Yale Medical Library now employs not one but two dogs, both named Finn.
The University of California, Berkeley, believes college students are stressed more than just twice a year. The Pet Hugs program, in partnership with the Animal Rescue Foundation, brings dogs to campuses each month to interact with students.
But the University of Minnesota broke all records. Like the University of California at Berkeley, this university understands the need for students to interact with dogs on a regular basis.
Its PAWS (Pet Away Worry and Stress) program provides opportunities for people to interact with animals weekly at three different locations. The best part is that students get a weekly dose of canine interaction. These rooms are open to the general public, so other residents without pets can come and relax, too.
Benefits of having dogs on campus
All of these universities offer rooms with puppies as alternative options for stress relief. According to them, students who participate in the program not only have lower stress levels, but their moods improve overall. With improved mood and concentration levels due to such programs, students have also seen better exam results.
The programs provide students with all the benefits of interacting with a dog without caring for a pet, adding more stress.
That said, not only do students have the benefit of reduced stress levels, but universities that bring in dogs from local therapy training programs provide the additional training that helps dogs pass their certifications.
Final thoughts on pet therapy
Never underestimate the impact a pet can have on your mood. Parents whose children go to college should pay attention to how their child interacts with their pets when they come home on vacations.
It may be worth letting your dog spend a week with your son or daughter at college, if it’s not forbidden, to give them extra bonding time and to help in times of need.