Spending time with specially trained dogs may help students release stress during exams, says study

15 March 2018, 04:58 PM
Spending time with dogs may help students release stress during exams (File Photo)
Spending time with dogs may help students release stress during exams (File Photo)

An atypical study led by a group of Canadian researchers has found that therapy sessions with specially trained dogs at educational institutions may help students reduce stress during the exam and boost their well-being.

"Our findings suggest that therapy dog sessions have a measurable, positive effect on the wellbeing of university students, particularly on stress reduction and feelings of negativity," said Emma Ward-Griffin, a psychology research assistant from the University of British Columbia (UBC), in a statement.

Researchers from the University of British Columbia conducted the study on 246 students, who took part in a drop-in-therapy dog session at their university campus. The students cuddled and played with seven to twelve dogs during the conclave.

Scientists asked the students to fill out questionnaires before and after the therapy session, and again about 10 hours later.

The study showed that the well-being of those students was comparatively better than a control group, who did not spend time with those dogs. Students, who spent time with doggies reported remarkable reductions in their level of stress. They also looked happier and way more energetic after spending times at the therapy dog session.

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Talking about the latest findings, study co-author Stanley Coren said, "The results were remarkable."

"We found that, even 10 hours later, students still reported slightly less negative emotion, feeling more supported, and feeling less stressed, compared to students who did not take part in the therapy dog session," Stanley stated further.

While earlier studies suggest that female students could benefit from therapy dog sessions more in comparison to male students, the latest study led by Emma Ward-Griffin found that the session is helpful for all irrespective of their genders.

Although some of these positive feelings, happiness and satisfaction did not last long, the stress-busting effects were significant. Hence universities all over the world should offer such therapy session to their students at times of increased stress during examinations.

"These sessions clearly provide benefits for students in the short-term, so we think universities should try to schedule them during particularly stressful times, such as around exam periods," said senior author Frances Chen.

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"Even having therapy dogs around while students are working on their out-of-class assignments could be helpful," she added.

The study is published online in the journal Stress and Health.

First Published: Thursday, March 15, 2018 10:10 AM
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