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Puppy Rooms: Awesome Antidote to Student Stress

Puppy Rooms: Awesome Antidote to Student Stress

Instead of nervously glancing at notes, downing another cup of coffee or staring at the ceiling reviewing facts and figures in their heads, what if college students could hang out with a puppy in the midst of exam time?

Students at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, were able to do just that for three days in early December thanks to the school offering a puppy room in its Student Union. Volunteers from Therapeutic Paws of Canada, which brings therapeutic dogs and cats into nursing homes, schools and other sites, accompanied the puppies.

A Facebook posting about the puppy room by Dalhousie University’s Student Union went viral in a minor way (the page was shared more than 2,000 times). One student, Jimmy Tennant commented, “My major paper is due at 4 PM on the 4th… I will beeline it to the Puppy Room.”

Another commenter, Missy Ross, suggested that a puppy room could help in other settings: “I think this idea should spread to other places….I’m a teacher and we are pretty stressed this time of year……a puppy would be an awesome distraction and would definitely lower my BP!”

The University of Ottawa has also brought in a therapy dog to alleviate student stress as has McGill University. Audrey Giles, a human kinetics professor, brings Tundra, an 8-year-old border collie mix, for “office hours” every two weeks so students can pet and play with her. The first time Giles announced that Tundra would be on a campus, about 20 students showed up —  after word got out, that number tripled.

Noting that petting a dog can help reduce both blood pressure and anxiety, Giles says in The Star, “I’ve had a couple of students come in and say, ‘I have an exam in 10 minutes and I need to see the dog!’” She points out that Tundra, who was adopted from a rescue shelter in Edmonton, “can’t possibly get enough attention.” There are benefits for the puppies and therapy dogs, too.

More and more research has shown the health care benefits of therapy dogs and pets. The idea of making a puppy room or a therapy dog available to university students at exam time seems a no-brainer. Even if students might not have time to play with a puppy, just seeing an animal in the pressure-cooker atmosphere of exam time can be a stress-reliever. Taking a ten or fifteen time-out from writing an essay about the history plays of Shakespeare or studying for an anatomy and physiology exam and playing with a puppy can help students (not to mention others in a university community) refocus and refresh.

Students have actually waited in line for an hour and a half to play with Tundra, says Murray Sang, director of the University of Ottawa’s Student Academic Success Service.  While emphasizing that rubbing a therapy dog’s belly and feeding her treats is no substitute for counseling, Sang acknowledges that “there’s something to it” — at the very least!


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Image from a screenshot of a video uploaded by Dalhousie U/YouTube

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3:44PM PDT on May 6, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

1:57PM PST on Mar 9, 2013

just fantastic,all of the innocent fur babies only deserve to be kept healthy and happy,i mean just look at what they give,without asking anything in return.

7:03AM PST on Feb 14, 2013

good article, thanks

10:31AM PST on Feb 12, 2013

1 Corinthians 16:14 "Let all that you do be done in love." These are beautiful words to live by and they apply to our relationships with animals as well as people. Animals are essential to our well-being. They not only reduce our blood pressure and feelings of anxiety, they take us back to a spiritual level that is often buried beneath the cares of this material age.Giving and receiving love empowers us to take on the world and the difficulties we each face [including exams]. Imagine a world without would be a life not worth living. These young people are our future, and to see them interacting with the dogs like this gives me hope.

2:59PM PST on Feb 11, 2013

That's so nice. So many student leave their pets and home for the first time. I've heard about pet therapy for old people and sick people, why not for students. Dont they have pet rabbit drop in centers in Japan? Similar idea.

9:37AM PST on Feb 5, 2013

To Whom It May Concern:

A group of students wants to purchase a hedgehog and use it to brighten up college students days. College can be a stressful environment. With this hedgehog, the students plan on allowing other students to pet, snuggle, bathe, and play with an adorable animal to brighten up their day, be it after a bad test or an argument with their roommate.

The hedgehog's name is Posh, because its going to be spoiled with love by all who see it.

As soon as the funds are amassed, we plan on purchasing the hedgehog, along with anything needed to care for the tiny adorable animal.

Thank you,

5:51AM PST on Jan 27, 2013

So long as the animal is one of those that can't get enough human attention, so isn't stressed out by all the strangers, I think it's a great idea. Everywhere should have a pet room.

7:59AM PST on Jan 23, 2013

Great idea!

11:04AM PST on Jan 22, 2013

The students miss their own animals so what a treat for students and animals. Great idea

6:36AM PST on Jan 19, 2013

thanks for sharing :)

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