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Therapy dogs are the best stress relievers

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Through the ages, man has called dog one of his closest companions. He has also called him protector, helper, lifesaver, and provider. Dogs are an incredible friend to man because they have been there through the years, through any task and any challenge, but the relationship between dog and man goes a bit deeper (and older).

The friendship between dog and man dates back to 15,000 years when dogs, who originated from a common ancestor, followed man throughout his migrations in East Asia. Psychologically, this connection makes sense because both man and dog are social beings. Neither can thrive when alone, and both benefit mentally (and often physically) from such a strong bond. Having a dog at home gives us a listening ear, a warm paw to hold, and even strong legs to run beside.

Therapy dogs

There is pretty much no group of stressed-out humans who won’t benefit from hanging out with a goofy, loveable dog — including university students.

A new study in the journal Stress and Health finds the pressure of exams and assignments is abated by one-on-one time with specially trained dogs.

“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 the study’s lead author Emma Ward-Griffin, a psychology research assistant from the University of British Columbia (UBC), in a statement.

Ward-Griffin and her colleagues surveyed almost 250 students before and after a drop-in therapy dog session where they could pat, cuddle and talk to a dozen poochies.

These students’ emotional wellbeing was compared to a control group who didn’t get to play with the doggos — and researchers described the differences as “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,” said UBC psychology professor Stanley Coren, the study’s co-author.

The researchers suggested that therapy dogs become university fixtures around particularly stressful times, such as exam period. Unlikely anyone’s going to dispute that…

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