A lovely item on BBC News is being republished.
Sean Coughlan wrote a most delightful piece on the BBC News website the other day.
No matter how many times dogs are referred to it always cheers me up to read about them, especially on a major news website.
Dogs ‘prevent stressed students dropping out’
By Sean Coughlan, BBC News family and education correspondent
July 2nd, 2019
Stress among students really can be reduced by spending time with animals, according to research from the US.
It has become increasingly common for universities to bring “therapy dogs” on to campus – but claims about their benefits have often been anecdotal.
Now, scientists say they have objective evidence to support the use of dogs.
Patricia Pendry, from Washington State University, said her study showed “soothing” sessions with dogs could lessen the negative impact of stress.
The study of more than 300 undergraduates had found weekly hour-long sessions with dogs brought to the university by professional handlers had made stressed students at “high risk of academic failure” or dropping out “feel relaxed and accepted”, helping them to concentrate, learn and remember information, she said.
“Students most at risk, such as those with mental health issues, showed the most benefit,” said Dr Pendry.
It has also become more common in the UK, with Buckingham, University College London, Cambridge, Nottingham Trent, London Metropolitan and Swansea among those deploying dogs.
The University of Middlesex has even put “canine teaching assistants” on to the staff, to stop lonely students dropping out.
- Stress-busting dogs join the staff of university
- ‘Every schools needs a dog as a stress buster’
- Dogs used to relieve student exam stress
Previous research has suggested stroking pets can reduce stress hormone levels.
“There does seem to be something specific about the reducing of anxiety from the petting of animals,” said Dr Pendry.
“Do we fully understand the mechanism? No,” said Prof Nancy Gee, a psychologist at the State University of New York and researcher from the Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition, also part of the project.
But students appeared to “feel calmer and more socially supported”, giving them more confidence in their studies.
Even just looking at animals could sometimes lighten the mood, Prof Gee added.
This is such a lovely piece. Professor Nancy Gee sums up what we feel when we are close to a dog and yet ponders on the precise science of it.
It’s true! Even just looking at a dog, or more in our case, definitely lightens the mood.
Just look at the exchange of softness in that third photograph from the top. The one about a children’s hospital in California that took on its first therapy dog.