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Therapy Dogs Help Students Relax

It’s no secret that pets raise spirits and improve health, scientists and wellness experts have been telling us this for years, but now some colleges are taking it to heart during finals season this year.

University staffs have been employing novel ways to help students combat the extremes of end-of-semester stress: counseling, yoga, oxygen bars, free pizza, dance classes, midnight massages and laser tag. Now a number of colleges are adding therapy dogs to the list.

Ohio’s Oberlin College, UC San Diego, and Tufts University are just a few of the institutions which are now bringing in dogs to help relieve the anxiety. Students get a chance to pet, feed and play with the dogs–giving the kids a much-needed break and some laughs to break up the monotony of studying. Beyond the momentary feelings of stress relief, experts say that the simple act of petting a dog has longer term effects and can lead to better results on exams. “If you can keep your head clear for a little bit, you’re able to retain a lot more information and help the learning process,” said Debra Jo Chiapuzio, at a dog-therapy wellness event at UC San Diego. “This is a great means of de-stressing.”

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Read more: College Life, Dogs, Healthy Schools, Mental Wellness, News & Issues, Pets, ,

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Melissa Breyer

Melissa Breyer is a writer and editor with a background in sustainable living, specializing in food, science and design. She is the co-author of True Food (National Geographic) and has edited and written for regional and international books and periodicals, including The New York Times Magazine. Melissa lives in Brooklyn, NY.


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12:29PM PST on Dec 18, 2013

Thanks for Sharing.

1:35AM PDT on Aug 28, 2012

After the shootings at Virginia Tech some people brought their dogs out to the drillfield to let students pet and play with them. I don't think it was an officially organized event, just people who knew how much animals can help. It was the only outreach effort that I found helpful rather than upsetting. The official events felt so cold and contrived to me, but there's nothing warmer or more genuine than a friendly puppy who just wants you to throw that ball again.

2:39PM PST on Feb 7, 2011

Way cool thanks for sharing!

12:27PM PST on Dec 26, 2010

Nita Smith
It's so nice to hear that Asia is slowly (too slow unfortunately) - but therefore surely - taking tiny steps towards seeing animals as living beings with feelings and not just articles to be used and abused.

10:25PM PST on Dec 22, 2010

Here's my stuff. I take my dog, a black Lab mix, to an elementary school where second and fourth graders come over and read to her. Kids don't feel as much pressure because the dog doesn't care of they mess up a word and won't laugh. It's a great program and we enjoy spending time with the kids and, we hope, improving their reading skills ... or at least giving them a little more fun.

6:34PM PST on Dec 22, 2010

Great info

4:25PM PST on Dec 20, 2010

animals don't take things so seriously so they helpp people relax.

10:10AM PST on Dec 20, 2010

The Animals Asia foundation has rescued thousands of cats and dogs in China and has set up a programme to take the dogs into the schools and hospitals to heal people and get the children used to petting them and it's working like magic. Animals are amazing in so many ways.

4:00AM PST on Dec 20, 2010

"An animal's eyes have the power to speak a great language." ~ Martin Buber

2:01PM PST on Dec 19, 2010

Great article.

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