Dogs are so, so special!

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.

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Dogs ‘prevent stressed students dropping out’

By Sean Coughlan, BBC News family and education correspondent

July 2nd, 2019

Therapy dogs are used in more than 1,000 universities and colleges in the US – Getty Images

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.

Dogs are also used to help people with post-traumatic stress disorder – Getty Images

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.

A children’s hospital in California got its first therapy dog this year – Getty Images

“Students most at risk, such as those with mental health issues, showed the most benefit,” said Dr Pendry.

The dog therapy research team at Washington State University

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.

The university study involved 300 undergraduates at Washington State

Previous research has suggested stroking pets can reduce stress hormone levels.

Students spent an hour with dogs, brought to the university by professional handlers

“There does seem to be something specific about the reducing of anxiety from the petting of animals,” said Dr Pendry.

Middlesex University has put dogs on the staff as “canine teaching assistants”

“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.

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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.

17 thoughts on “Dogs are so, so special!

  1. Great article. I have found when I am feeling anxious, if I pet Mags or hold her, it is very calming.

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  2. Wonderful! Doesn’t surprise me at all of course. And what a great photo of the 3 “canine teaching assistants” !

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  3. As the upright half of a pet therapy team, I can readily attest to the efficacy of visiting with peeps suffering from high stress or PTSD. It’s amazing for both the person we visit as well as for us!

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  4. Great article Paul 🙂
    Dogs are great to reduce stress. Play at little with them in their terms and we forget our troubles fast.
    Cats are also good to reduce stress, just in another way.

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  5. There is no reason to exclude dogs in everyday situations. It makes perfect sense to me. Lovely article. I so wish I had a dog, but it is not possible at the moment.

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