Dogs. Even the word sparks delight in many individuals. It is well known that man and dog have shared a special bond for many generations. Maybe it’s their loyal nature, adoring eyes or even their wagging tails? Either way, it’s safe to say that dogs hold a very special place in the hearts of Britain. Now, they are assisting in the educational practice as therapy dogs, to positively boost students’ mental health.
Influenced from US colleges, wellbeing dogs are beginning to be introduced into UK universities, undergoing extensive training to help reduce the stress levels of students who are at risk of dropping out of their university course. Whilst the use of therapy dogs initially faced scepticism, experts have now provided evidence for the health benefits of a canine companion’s calming temperament.
Scientist Patricia Pendry explains that the overall impact of a furry friend helps to relax and assure students who are suffering with stress and anxiety. This has been trialled in Middlesex University where each Labrador is equipped with their own staff card and are assessed thoroughly to ensure they are suitable for the role. The canine carers have even been noted to help reduce loneliness in students because stroking animals reduces nervousness and provides social support.
With an increase in mental health concerns amongst young students, an improvement in individual happiness and security in the form of a four-legged friend would certainly be a welcomed addition to any educational or corporate space. An office lunch break shared with the company of a dog? Sounds perfect to me!
Dogs ‘prevent stressed students dropping out’- BBC News
Photo – Canine teaching assistants at Middlesex University, 2019 – https://www.mdx.ac.uk/student-life/student-support