Therapy dogs save stressed college students

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

therapy dogs
Who can resist that adorable doggy medicine?

Puppies sure are cute, but did you know they are also saving college students all across the nation? The University of Louisiana at Lafayette, UC Berkeley, Columbia University, UCLA, and dozens of more campuses are providing a popular study break: petting pooches.

When college students prepare for their final examinations, stress levels skyrocket as they study more and sleep less. According to several studies, hanging out with a dog increases a hormone known as oxytocin, which reduces blood pressure and anxiety, and it’s the perfect way to take the academic weight off their shoulders. “It’s been fantastic for the students,” says Chris Daood, who works with the program out of Marquette University’s counseling center. “You see (students’) shoulders drop and see them smile. This is a great way for them to keep life in perspective.”

There are several programs that train canines to help stressed, disabled, or sick people, such as CanineAssistants. This Georgia-based company devotes 18 acres of farmland to ensure dogs-in-training are as calm as possible. For example, the pooches are taught to walk slowly upstairs instead of racing, and also not to be startled by sudden noises such as a vacuum cleaner. In all, the intelligent animals learn around 90 cues and manners before they’re ready to comfort stressed students and other people in need.

As for the college students, they absolutely adore the dogs! Erin Mooney, a librarian from Emory University said, “We were surprised how many students showed up to pet the dogs. There was such a crush of people. We had to do it again.”

Images courtesy of Purchase Brick on YouTube