It’s no secret that pets raise spirits and improve health, scientists and wellness experts have been telling us this for years, but now some colleges are taking it to heart during finals season this year.University staffs have been employing novel ways to help students combat the extremes of end-of-semester stress: counseling, yoga, oxygen bars, free pizza, dance classes, midnight massages and laser tag. Now a number of colleges are adding therapy dogs to the list.
Ohio’s Oberlin College, UC San Diego, and Tufts University are just a few of the institutions which are now bringing in dogs to help relieve the anxiety. Students get a chance to pet, feed and play with the dogs–giving the kids a much-needed break and some laughs to break up the monotony of studying. Beyond the momentary feelings of stress relief, experts say that the simple act of petting a dog has longer term effects and can lead to better results on exams. “If you can keep your head clear for a little bit, you’re able to retain a lot more information and help the learning process,” said Debra Jo Chiapuzio, at a dog-therapy wellness event at UC San Diego. “This is a great means of de-stressing.”